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The Collection

Models and paintings

Permanently on display are a number of important historical medical object collections including the Joseph Towne anatomical, dermatological and pathology wax model collection and the Lam Qua tumour paintings.

Also contained in the collection are a number of original medical artefacts including Joseph Lister’s original antiseptic spray; the earliest form of a hypodermic syringe; vaccinators for the mid-nineteenth century and early nineteenth-century medical instruments from the field cases of military surgeons.

Joseph Towne’s wax model collection

Within the Dunhill Dermatology Room and the Anatomy Room of the Museum are many wax models created by Joseph Towne (1808-1879) of the interior structure of the human body and also replicas of the exterior skin conditions sent to Towne by Thomas Addison, the foremost authority on skin disease of his day.

Joseph Towne held the post of wax modeller to Guy’s Hospital Medical School for 53 years and in that time he produced over 200 anatomical, dermatological and pathological models, based on the dissections of demonstrator John Hilton. Towne’s models are on display in the Museum and are still used for teaching. Towne was awarded many prizes for his work including the silver medal from the Royal Society for Arts.

A selection of Towne’s models were lent to the Wellcome Trust for the ‘Exquisite Bodies’ exhibition in 2009. Read more about the exhibition here.

 Example of the anatomical modelling of Joseph Townes showing the spine and organs of the lying figure

An example of the anatomical modelling of Joseph Towne showing the spine and organs of the lying figure

The paintings of Lam Qua

The Museum contains the collection of paintings of pre-operative Chinese tumour patients by Lam Qua (1801–1860). Lam Qua was a successful artist living in Canton in the nineteenth century. He had been the senior pupil of George Chinnery, a British portraitist of the academic school. Chinnery, whose own master was Joshua Reynolds, became the first English painter to settle in China.

Lam Qua became an expert in portraiture, which was virtually absent from the Chinese tradition. The Rev. Dr Peter Parker (1804 -1888), started work in China in 1834 as a medical missionary and Lam Qua's nephew became Dr. Parker's apprentice. In gratitude for Parker's work, Lam Qua offered to paint Parker's most interesting cases. Lam Qua's only proviso was "As there is no charge for cutting, I can make none for painting". These paintings adorned the Canton hospital waiting room. Parker donated some twenty three paintings to Guy's hospital. In 1841, whilst visiting Guy's, Parker provided the original descriptions of his patients.

These paintings are now on exhibition in the Percy Robert's room of the Museum. A further 105 paintings can be seen at Yale, where Parker had completed a twin course in theology and medicine in 1834.

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