13 Side of the Face

Title: Side of the Face

Artist/Source: Charles Bell (1774-1842)

Date: circa 1830

Medium/Technique: watercolour, graphite and iron gall ink on paper

UCL Art Museum #9282


In this watercolour the dissected head rests on a stone slab as if viewed level with the dissecting table. One might imagine Bell in the morgue at the former site of the Middlesex Hospital, next to the present day Charles Bell House. Bell has skilfully applid medium to articulate the muscular structure of the face. Remnants of skin and hair, whose rendering is particular to nineteenth century anatomical illustration, remind the viewer of the dissection process and offer a cross-sectional perspective in the tissues overlying the facial muscle.

Bell produced this watercolour during his final year as Chair of Anatomy at UCL Medical School, before he left following intense arguments with the university’s administration.

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