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Objects from Wellcome Collection

Reflecting the diversity of Wellcome Collection, Prospect asked a selection of experts to respond to individual objects they thought astonishing, intriguing or important within its two permanent galleries, Medicine Now and Medicine Man

By Lewis Wolpert   September 2007

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Mark Cousins, film critic, on a 19th-century Japanese illustration, in Medicine Man

At first I misrecognise this image as an assault. In so many Japanese films in recent years a dark haired young woman spills blood, that I see this painting by Kamata Keishu from 1851, through 21st century cinephile eyes. Then I read its caption. It’s a doctor excising a cancer growth. Immediately it is something else. A benign invasion. The first such operation using general anaesthetic was carried…

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