William Hunter and body snatching, 1773

William Hunter and body snatching, 1773

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Credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: William Hunter and body snatching. 18th-century caricature showing the Scottish anatomist William Hunter (1718-1783) at far right, fleeing the scene of an attempted body snatching. His accomplice has been accosted by a lantern-carrying watchman, and the dropped hamper has opened to reveal a dead body. The watchman is using a rattle to raise the alarm. The title is across top. The practice of body snatching to supply corpses for anatomists and medical schools was common before the Anatomy Act 1832 was passed to counter this illegal trade. This 1773 artwork, number 8 in a series of 12, is by British caricaturist William Austin (1721-1820).

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