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The Hand of a Boy with A Distempered Skin, and A Branch of the Common Service- Tree


Engraving from George Edwards' Gleanings of Natural History- Circa 1760.


The text which accompanied this engraving in "Gleanings" recounts how Edward Lambert, the so-called "Porcupine Man," was shown before the Royal Society of London in the 1750s, first alone and then with his son, who had the same rare condition.


Later scientists have determined that Edward Lambert suffered from a severe type of the dermatological disorder ichthyosis hystrix. Lambert passed the disorder only to his sons, not his daughters. Billing themselves as "A New Species of Man," Lambert and his children and grandchildren traveled thoughout Europe exhibiting themselves for a fee. Despite his disease, Lambert lived to the age of 90 when he died after an accident.


The artist added the branch of the Service Tree for decorative purposes.


From the text of "Gleanings": "I then saw them both and examined them very carefully. The father, whose name is Edward Lambert, was born at Brandon in Suffolk and is now about fortyyears of age, a good looking well-shaped man of a florid complexion, and when his body and hands were hid, seemed nothing different from other people. But he was covred with innumerable slender proturberances of a wart-like appearance, some flattish at top, others concave, some pointed like cones, other irregular, standing pretty close together like bristles in a bush..."


"But the most extraordinary circumstance is that this man has six children, all with the same rugged covering as himself, the first appearance whereoff came on in about nine weeks after their birth. One of them only is now living, a pretty boy of eight years old..."

"The figure of the hand, expressed in this plate, was taken after nature from the son. I have shown the palm of the hand, thinking that most expressive... the Common Service [plant] is added, not only to decorate and fill up the plate, but also to rectify a mistake in Mrs. Blackwell's Herbal in the place of which she has figured the Red Berried Ash, which she calls the Common Service..."


We do not know which edition this plate is from.

Engraved on old chainlinked paper. No watermark.


Condition: Some light toning. A few light spots. Otherwise very good. We are not certain if the red lines ... which look hand drawn .. are original to this work, or if they are an embellishment added by a later owner.

Dimensions of sheet: Approx.
22 X 29 cm


SOLD - Reference Only


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