Artist Unknown


  • Etching
  • 195 x 138mm
  • 79/54

This late sixteenth or early seventeenth century British print is from a set depicting the five senses. The Wellcome Collection has three different versions of a matching print depicting 'feeling' in which a surgeon operates on a man's head, probably as a treatment for madness. (See Wellcome Library 583663i). It also carries four lines of doggerel:

Feeling of e'ry sense the best/ is thus indeed the most distrest/ No! man 'tis hell it self to feel/ instead of girl, the surgeons steel

Several sets of prints of the five senses have been identified. The book 'A Compleat Delineation and Description of the Several Regions & Countries in the Whole World', printed and sold by Robert Walton (1618-1688) in 1661 carries an advertisement (item 11) for a set of prints called 'The merry conceited five senses', also published by Walton, and it seems highly probable that this print is from that set, though possibly from a later edition.

See also 'The print in Tudor Britain' by Anthony Griffiths (British Museum Press, 1998), pages 310-311 for information about this print and passim for information about Walton.

With thanks to Simon Demissie at the Wellcome Library for assistance in interpreting this work.

See the matching print, Feeling, in the Wellcome Collection.