Early Phrenology


Galileo and Bruegel from Anatomie et Physiologie du Système Nerveux

Anatomie et Physiologie du Système Nerveux is the seminal work in which Gall discusses the location of the original twenty-seven cerebral faculties and the functions of each. The text of the Anatomie is complemented by an atlas of engravings of human and animal crania; the cerebral faculties are illustrated by engravings of the heads and faces of artists, philosophers, and historical figures, including Kant, Bruegel, Socrates, Plato, Louis XIII, Rembrandt, and Christ.


Calves' Heads and Brains, or A Phrenological Lecture

Even in the first years of its popularity during the early nineteenth century, phrenology was a source of amusement to many and became a target for a number of satiric artists of the day, such as George Cruikshank, the "Phiz" illustrator of Charles Dickens' works. Note, particularly, the negative qualities of slyness, pride, and suspicion and the busts of Gall and Spurzheim on the floor. The supposed artist is J. Lump and the engraver L. Bump, but the print is attributed to Henry Thomas Alken (1785-1851), a popular sporting illustrator of the early 19th century.


An Old Maid's Skull Phrenologised

This English satiric print illustrates some of the absurdities associated with phrenology, as the traits and marked skulls of dogs, birds, and horses are treated on a par with humans. The phrenologist depicted—"Doctor S."—may be intended to represent J. G. Spurzheim.


A number of medals were struck to honor Franz Joseph Gall, commemorating his lectures in Berlin in 1805 as well as his death. One is a medal depicting phrenology's symbolical head; the obverse and reverse delineate the thirty-five faculties as conceived by J. G. Spurzheim. The other is a medal of Gall.


The Influence of the Brain on the Form of the Head

This English translation of Gall's Sur les Fonctions du Cerveau was one of the Boston Phrenological Society's first publication projects. In this passage, Gall describes how he isolated the faculties of attachment and friendship.

Franz Joseph Gall
Early Phrenology