Homework #1: Wellcome Images Database



The image I chose from the Wellcome Library is called “Gentlefolk of Leeds Afflicted with Disease; Mrs. Prince, after surgical removal of a breast. Watercolour, 1841.” The painting captured my attention because of the graphic imagery of the woman’s mastectomy. From the painting, it shows a middle-aged woman, possibly in middle class society. She looks healthy based on her weight and has the red blush on her cheeks. However, the skin on her face may be covered with make-up, so we cannot be sure how healthy she really is. She is wearing a lace cap, a dark dress, and a yellow shawl. Her dress and shawl are loosened to reveal her breasts and makes the observer to focus his/her attention to them. The woman has an open wound on her right breast, with vivid details of what it is inside of it. We do not know what kind of disease she had on her breast, which required this kind of operation in the 1800s. This is like the images we saw in class because the artist must have studied in detail of the internal body, possibly seeing woman undergo the surgery or possibly at her autopsy, in order to paint this image. It also shows us that doctors did indeed do these kinds of procedures back in the 1800s on women that had diseases, tumors, or cancers on their breasts.

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