The Anatomy of Melancholy

“Melancholy advanceth men’s concepts more than any humour whatsoever”.

Since antiquity, the term ‘melancholia’ has named a condition with a wide range of meaning: social, religious and medical. The seventeenth century bestseller The Anatomy of Melancholy assigned a range of causes to, and cautiously advanced possible remedies for, the condition. The book resonates within contemporary discussions about the impact heredity and environment may have upon mental health, and has inspired and influenced a canon of artists, writers and musicians.

The exhibition is an exploration of how the proposed causes and cures are represented within the art collection of Bethlem Museum of the Mind. The famous frontispiece of The Anatomy of Melancholy depicts some of these causes, and just one remedy, which are thematically explored through the exhibition. Across the 200 year span of Bethlem’s art collections, there are multiple echoes of these supposed causes, from Jonathan Martin and Richard Dadd in the nineteenth century; through Charles Sims and Madge Gill in the twentieth; to George Harding and Tracie Hodge in the twenty-first.

Events listings:                         

26 January, 14:00-15:00: Talk - Writing and Reading The Anatomy of Melancholy

2 February, 14:00-15:00: Anti-Valentine’s Day Card-Making

13 February, 11:00 – 12:00: Cake and Conversation

23 February, 14:00-15:00: Poetry Workshop

2 March, 14:00-15:00: Talk - The Dark Night of the Soul and St. John of the Cross

Sat 30 March, 14:00-15:00: Talk - Countering Melancholy the 18th Century Way

Sat 6 April, 14:00-15:00: Talk and Walk - The Archaeology of Melancholy

Sat 27 April, 14:00-15:00: Talk - How the fear of Illness is Making us Unwell

End Date
27 April 2019
End Time
Bethlem Museum of the Mind
Bethlem Royal Hospital
Monks Orchard Road