Albumen print photograph
Desiré Magloire Bourneville (1840—1909) and Paul Régnard (1850—1927).
Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière, Service de M. Charcot.
Paris: Bureau du Progrès Médical, V. Adrien Delahay et Cie, 1877—80
Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library

 
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Jean-Martin Charcot (1825—1893) was the most famous student of noted neurophysiologist and innovative photographer Guillaume-Benjamin-Armand Duchenne (1806—1875). In 1862, Charcot became the director of the hospital of Salpêtrière and proceeded to create there the greatest neurological clinic of the nineteenth century. Continuing Duchenne's photographic experiments, Charcot sought to track the physical manifestations of neurological disorders in facial expressions and gestures. He employed Bourneville and Régnard to photograph the progression of grand mal seizures and hysteria. Their efforts resulted in this work, a unique photographic chronicle of the patients of Salpêtrière.

It was also at Salpêtrière that Charcot introduced a pedagogic innovation. He demonstrated his case studies in a miniature theater, the stage of which was supplied with footlights and other theatrical paraphernalia. The patients were presented on the illuminated stage while Charcot, on the side of the stage, verbally explained their case histories. Very often he would also mimic a patient's tics, tremors, spasms, manner of walking, etc. When the patient was dismissed or removed from the stage, Charcot would project the particular pathological lesion or the physiological details of a disorder onto a screen at the back of the stage.


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