[Patient, Surrey County Lunatic Asylum]

Hugh Welch Diamond British

Not on view

As the superintendent of the Female Department of the Surrey County Lunatic Asylum, Diamond was among the first to use photography to investigate the physiognomy of insanity. He photographed his own patients, classifying the portraits according to now antiquated "types of insanity," such as nymphomania, catalepsy, and suicidal melancholy. Working in the belief that mental states are manifested in the physiognomy and that photographs are objective representations of reality, Diamond described himself as a photographer who "catches in a moment the permanent cloud, or the passing storm or sunshine of the soul, and thus enables the metaphysician to witness and trace out the connexion between the visible and the invisible." What is made visible in the patient's gaze and with historical hindsight is, ironically, the folly of such beliefs.

[Patient, Surrey County Lunatic Asylum], Hugh Welch Diamond (British, 1808–1886), Albumen silver print from glass negative

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.