Skeleton of Man and of the Male Gorilla (Troglodytes Gorilla) thumbnail 1
Skeleton of Man and of the Male Gorilla (Troglodytes Gorilla) thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F

Skeleton of Man and of the Male Gorilla (Troglodytes Gorilla)

Photograph
c.1855 (photographed)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

When this photograph was taken, Roger Fenton was the official photographer at the British Museum. (The British Museum then held the collections that now comprise the Natural History Museum.) The human skeleton depicted is of no special significance, apart from the fact that it is probably of a European. The gorilla, however, shows evidence of severe trauma to its left arm - a bite from a lion to the lower part of its left humerus. Gorillas do not spend much time ‘standing’ upright because it takes muscle energy for them to do so. Thus, the supposedly ‘neutral’ presentation of a gorilla skeleton is in fact the presentation of an idea: ‘a gorilla standing is not too different from a human standing’.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Salted paper print mounted on printed card
Brief Description
Photograph by Roger Fenton, 'Skeleon of Man and of the Male Gorilla (Troglodytes Gorilla)', salted paper print, c.1855
Physical Description
Two skeletons photographed side by side for comparative purposes. Printed with Fenton's credit.
Dimensions
  • Height: 36.5cm
  • Width: 28cm
Style
Production typeUnlimited edition
Gallery Label
Gallery 100, ‘History of photography’, 2011-2012, label text : Roger Fenton (1819-69) ‘Skeleton of Man and of the Male Gorilla (Troglodytes Gorilla)’ About 1855 A leader in the first generation of photographers, Fenton was the official photographer at the British Museum, which held the collections that today comprise the Natural History Museum. Photography rapidly became a valuable aid to scientific research. The ape skeleton has been reconstructed in a more upright form than natural to emphasise the similarities between humans and apes. The gorilla’s left arm shows evidence of a lion bite. Salted paper print Museum no. 40.849 (07 03 2014)
Production
Fenton was official photographer at the British Museum at this time



Reason For Production: Retail
Subjects depicted
Summary
When this photograph was taken, Roger Fenton was the official photographer at the British Museum. (The British Museum then held the collections that now comprise the Natural History Museum.) The human skeleton depicted is of no special significance, apart from the fact that it is probably of a European. The gorilla, however, shows evidence of severe trauma to its left arm - a bite from a lion to the lower part of its left humerus. Gorillas do not spend much time ‘standing’ upright because it takes muscle energy for them to do so. Thus, the supposedly ‘neutral’ presentation of a gorilla skeleton is in fact the presentation of an idea: ‘a gorilla standing is not too different from a human standing’.
Associated Object
40850 (Pair)
Bibliographic References
  • Donald, Diane, and Jane Munro, Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science, and the Visual Arts, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009.
  • Taken from Photography Department index card catalogue
Collection
Accession Number
40849

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record createdFebruary 7, 2004
Record URL