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22 May 2022

A taste of one's own medicine exhibition opens @ RCP

Royal College of Physicians opens new exhibition exploring satire in medicine
Open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, free entry, no need to book (for groups of up to 5 people), usually open late the first Thursday of the month).

As it says on their website...
The Royal College of Physician’s (RCP's) new exhibition - A taste of one’s own medicine - explores the enduring appeal of satirical images, and how doctors have been ridiculed, reprimanded and maligned for centuries.

Opening on 3 May and based at the RCP’s Museum in Regent’s Park, the exhibition will comprise a unique collection of medical satire prints from the mid-18th century to the 1980s, selected and given by doctors and members over its 500-year history.

Graphic satire has saturated all levels of society since it emerged as a skilled artform in the 17th century. It developed into a thriving industry in the 18th century, becoming a powerful tool for expressing political and social opinions, not least towards medical professionals.

The exhibition includes satirical artist William Hogarth’s print ‘The company of undertakers’ which famously attacked the medical profession, cartoonist James Gillray’s print criticising English doctor Edward Jenner following his development of a successful vaccine against smallpox, and an illustration of one of the adventures of Baron Munchausen denouncing the effectiveness of the RCP in the 18th century.

Lowri Jones, senior curator of the RCP Museum, said:
“Caricature and satirical images have an enduring appeal, and that is true as much in the past as it is today. The satirical prints that sit within the RCP Museum’s 5000-strong art collection were collected and donated by physicians over the years, and in this exhibition you will see some items which have not been on display for decades, and others which have never before been exhibited.

“While many of the images you will see in the exhibition are from the 18th and 19th centuries, they are not dissimilar from a cartoon you might see in a newspaper today. You understand the cartoon because you know what else is happening at the time – but if you looked at it next month, next year, or in a hundred years’ time, it probably wouldn’t make as much sense. Providing this background information is what A taste of one’s own medicine is all about, giving visitors the ability to decipher the complex stories contained within the prints and letting us peek into the world in which they were created.

“I’m really pleased to welcome people for our first new exhibition since the museum reopened in January 2022, particularly to be able to showcase such an engaging but previously under-used part of our collections.”

In conjunction with the exhibition there's also this workshop (run in conjunction with the Cartoon Museum's very own Stephen Marchant) about caricatures & cartoons. The workshop is on the 15th June, 6pm-8pm.

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