"Thomas Inglefield" from the 1820 edition of Kirby's Wonderful and Eccentric Museum
"Thomas Inglefield at the Age of 20, from an Original Drawing, Born without Arms or Legs Decr. 18. 1769.", 1820, Kirby's Wonderful and Eccentric Museum
Born in Hampshire in 1769 to a well-off family, Thomas Inglefield was a skilled artist. Despite being born without his arms or legs, he was well-educated and devised ways to paint and etch. He often made money by working in front of others and selling his work. His inclusion in the Kirby's collection is at once flattering and insulting. On the one hand, he was a gentleman well respected for a talent made only more impressive by his lack of limbs. On the other, he is transformed into a "museum" subject made to be wondered at.
In the 18th century (and early years of the 19th), the disabled primarily were taken care of by their families, particularly if they were wealthy. While the Enlightenment encouraged understanding and empathy, it often also placed those with disabilities in the position of being a mere test subject for better understanding human nature at large, and more and more institutions began to appear across the UK for the mentally and physically disabled. Attempts were made to treat the disabled, however, many institutions were filthy and inhumane, and the general public often viewed the disabled as little more than sideshow attractions set apart from the rest of humanity.
Kirby's Wonderful and Eccentric Museum is a rare collection that was issued in six volumes, and featured over a hundred engravings of a series of characters regarded by Victorian audiences as entertaining for their perceived physical deformities, strange occupations, or personalities, and include a collection of misers, feral children, and dwarves.
Plate size: 5" x 7.75"
Sheet size: 5.50" x 8.75"
Condition: Some minor foxing outside of plate, but otherwise in fine condition