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Carswell Drawings


Sir Robert Carswell's anatomical drawings, with manuscript notes describing the cases illustrated, 1827-1838, and a manuscript catalogue, dated 1864.
The collection contains many items of historical significance, notably the first illustrations of the pathology in Hodgkin's Disease, the first portrayal of the lesions on the spinal cord in multiple sclerosis and the first depictions of iron deficiency anaemia. It comprises over around a thousand finely drafted watercolour and ink drawings, of various dimensions, depicting diseased structures divided into groups by subject.
Not all the drawings in the collection are by Carswell himself. Other named artists are Johnson Savage (17 drawings), W P Cocks (5 drawings) and H B Tuson (1 drawing). There is also an artist known simply by the initials "J A" (3 drawings) and some case notes are signed by B[enjamin] Clarke (3 drawings). In addition there are two (identical) uncoloured printed lithographs, and one unsigned drawing, dated Calcutta, 1852. Carswell's drawings are usually signed, or at least initialled by him, with the date and location on the verso. They date from September 1825 to March 1839, with those dated 1825 to early 1831 having Parisian locations. As well as the hospitals, zoo and abattoirs mentioned previously, some have names of doctors - presumably private cases which Carswell observed. One drawing has the inscription "Santo Spirito 1826", i.e. the Ospedale di Santo Spirito, the oldest hospital in Rome. One other has "St. Valery-sur Somme 1839" on the verso.
Of those executed in London, the majority were done at the North London or University College Hospital. Other locations are the Mount Street Infirmary and the North London Fever Hospital. The Fever Hospital was established for smallpox patients in 1802, in Gray's Inn Road, and moved to Liverpool Road, Islington in 1848.
Many drawings have several numbers on them but Carswell seems to have settled on the seventeen categories [A, B, Ca, Cb, D, E, Fa, Fb, Fc, Fd, G, Ha, Hb, Hc, I, K & L], each dealing with a part of the body or type of disease. The drawings were obviously once numbered in a continuous sequence from 1 to 1,035 but were then arranged into their respective groups which explains the seeming gaps in numbering.
The original drawings vary considerably in size, from as little as 4 x 4 cm to as much as 45 x 30 cm and above. Most are painted in watercolours. Over the years they were much used and handled, becoming very dirty and damaged, particularly at the edges. A project to conserve and re-house the drawings was completed in 2007. The drawings were digitised in 2017 and are now available online.



Drawings of New Formations

Jul 1826-Jul 1836

See Record View

Title Encephaloid Tumour. Fungus Haematodes. Melanosis
Date1 c1830

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