This chapter studies book provenance, auction and library catalogues, and reading networks to explore the circulation of Tagliacozzi’s rhinoplasty technique in medical society across early modern Britain. Copies of relevant medical texts can be traced to numerous individual surgeons, physicians, and other educated men, as well as several university and medical libraries that would have exposed the procedure to an interested readership. An English translation of De curtorum chirurgia was appended to the Chirurgorum comes of surgeon Alexander Read in 1686. The chapter explores Read’s attitudes towards plastic surgery techniques and the treatment of stigmatised (especially poxed) patients more broadly, and argues that he has been overlooked in the field. The publication history of this translation is explored in detail, and physician Francis Bernard proposed as the anonymous translator and editor. Further important owners of De curtorum chirurgia and Chirurgorum comes are discussed, including Francis’ brother, Sergeant Surgeon Charles Bernard. The chapter finally examines the writings of James Yonge, a Plymouth naval surgeon who publicised the use of a skin flap in amputations, for his strategic differentiation of his procedure from Taliacotian skin flaps.

in Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture
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Changing noses, changing fortunes

The conclusion uses two of the most famously disfigured noses in British literature to cohere strands of analysis pursued throughout the book. In both Henry Fielding’s Amelia and Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, the eponymous character’s nose is crushed in an accident. In Amelia, Fielding was attempting to create an unimpeachable heroine whose forbearance is testimony to her good character. The ridicule with which critics greeted Amelia’s injury, including tying it to Taliacotian rhinoplasty, attests to the continued significance of the damaged nose. Sterne, meanwhile, openly ridiculed the stigmatisation of nasal injuries by casting this as naive and ostensibly outdated. Though he mentions Tagliacozzi, it is only briefly, and this and further evidence from his library suggests that he was not particularly familiar with De curtorum chirurgia. Physician John Ferriar’s essay on the nose in Sterne’s book is the most fully informed about Tagliacozzi’s procedure and its historiography. Ferriar’s essay, alongside Fielding’s and Sterne’s novels, serves to elucidate how the reception of Tagliacozzi, and wider themes attached to autograft and allograft rhinoplasty, persisted, but also shifted to allow for the successful revival of rhinoplasty at the end of the eighteenth century.

in Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture
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Noses on sale

Chapter five engages with the commodification of living human flesh proposed within stories of sympathetic allograft rhinoplasty. In early accounts the flesh was sourced from a slave who gained manumission; as the story was domesticated for British economic conditions and concerns, this became a cash-in-hand servant. The chapter employs economic critiques of the alienability of gifts and commodities to read the attempted commoditisation of the transplanted flesh and other bodily products and argue that the accounts emphasised the failure of the graft in order to secure the inalienability of the living human body. The only British exception to the purchased graft story is a poem by Lady Hester Pulter in which she offers her own flesh to Sir William Davenant. As a first-person account of a noble, female, gifting individual, Pulter’s poem represents a striking deviation from other extant narratives, and the chapter offers a close analysis of her use of the conceit. Building on the evidence for book ownership in earlier chapters, Pulter’s (mis)understanding of Tagliacozzi’s procedure attests to the forms of restricted medical knowledge afforded to women who were otherwise able to engage with wider healthcare regimes, medications, and operations.

in Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture
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Vision, visibility and power in colonial India

Beyond its simple valorisation as a symbol of knowledge and progress in post-Enlightenment narratives, light was central to the visual politics and imaginative geographies of empire. Empires of Light describes how imperial designations of ‘cities of light’ and ‘hearts of darkness’ were consonant with the dynamic material culture of light in the nineteenth-century industrialisation of light (in homes, streets, theatres, etc.) and its instrumentalisation through industries of representation. Empires of Light studies the material effects of light as power through the drama of imperial vision and its engagement with colonial India. It evaluates responses by the celebrated Indian painter Ravi Varma (1848–1906) to claim the centrality of light in imperial technologies of vision, not merely as an ideological effect but as a material presence that produces spaces and inscribes bodies.

The naked and the clothed

A discourse on veiling and unveiling was implicated in changing notions of the body in nineteenth century India, prominent amongst which was the place of the female nude. Introduced by European artists and taught at the British-run academic art schools in India, the nude was also displayed in the houses and palaces of the elite as a symbol of good taste. This chapter argues that this idea of the nude – as the body shorn of all clothing – was premised upon Enlightenment ideas of the ‘naked truth’ that assumed the naked body as ‘natural’ and prior to representation. In the Indian context, however, as many authors have noted, it was the adorned body that was regarded as auspicious. This chapter evaluates how the female body becomes the site of an inordinate erotic investment in nineteenth-century Indian pictorial practice, premised upon exactly such a mechanism of veiling and unveiling, providing us with some historical perspective in recent debates on nudity in Indian painting.

in Empires of light
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The veil as technology of illumination

This chapter examines the emergence of the Indian landscape into the visibility of the Western world, drawing upon the iconography of unveiling as consonant with the trope of ‘discovery’. In the context of the civilising mission of empire, such acts of unveiling served as technologies of illumination, bringing light into benighted lands. The images examined foreground not only epistemological issues where visibility implies a transcendence of the darkness of Oriental mystique but are equally invested in aestheticising landscapes, so that exotic lands emerge as sites of visual pleasure. The ritual of unveiling dramatises the act of seeing, holding out the promise of an unmediated vision and the revelation of buried secrets and hidden pleasures.

in Empires of light
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The subaltern in the shadows

Taking a small portrait by Ravi Varma of a scholar reading in the glow of a lamp as a servant waits upon him in the background shadows, this chapter evaluates the emergence of the elitist figure of the artist against the backdrop of the subaltern craftsman. The differential inscription of light marks their place within the new order of visibility – the named artist whose face glows in the lamp and the anonymous craftsman marked by his labour. Keeping in mind recent art-historical scholarship that has tended to view the figure of the artist as the paradigmatic modern subject, this chapter tracks the developments in portraiture and the assertion of individualism, arguing that the representation of the elite artist allowed for a way to transition from the dominant anthropological model of portraiture popular in nineteenth-century India to the fiction of the assured subjectivity of later portraits.

in Empires of light
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The introduction examines the empire of light formulated at the intersection of industrial and imperial visual technologies during the era of the industrialisation of light. It argues that this had a profound impact on public life and practices of seeing, instituting new regimes of visibility. It asks how this was a legacy of Enlightenment ideas of light and evaluates its reception and negotiation by Indian artists.

in Empires of light
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To supply the scandalous want of that obvious part

This chapter introduces the current historiographical understanding of ‘Taliacotian’ nose surgery, and the false narrative of disappearance that has hampered histories of plastic surgery while serving specific discursive ends for this controversial medical field from the nineteenth century to now. It introduces early modern rhinoplasty to the history of transplantation, and discusses its relationship to syphilis. The introduction ends with a clear, concise outline of chapters that highlights their thematic and interpretative connections.

in Rhinoplasty and the nose in early modern British medicine and culture
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in Empires of light