The Dissecting Room

The Dissecting Room, by William Strang R.A. (1859-1921). 1884. Source: Newbolt, Plate VII. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

"The Dissecting Room is a strangely interesting etching when we have passed beyond the preliminary shudder," says Frank Newbolt, while wondering what attracted Strang to work on such subjects as this and the one he chose for the etching entitled The Slaughterhouse. Newbolt cannot help regretting "that great powers should be used in delineating horrors such as this," but goes on to compare Strang to Dickens in the mix of the macabre and the delightful in his choice of subject, declaring that, after all,

the force of the subjects under discussion is undeniable. The arrangement of the figures in both The Dissecting Room and The Slaughterhouse is magnificent, and in the former the attitude of the man in the apron is masterly, and the foreshortening of the unfortunate "subject" very clever. [16-17]

It might help to point out that Strang was influenced, among others, by Rembrandt, one of whose most celebrated oil-paintings is The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicholas Tulp (1632); also, that morbidity was a theme in fin-de-siècle Decadence.

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Image capture and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the source and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.


Newbolt, Frank. Etchings of William Strang, A.R.A.. London: G. Newnes / New York: Scribner's, [1907]. Internet Archive. Contributed by the University of California Libraries. Web. 9 March 2015.

Created 8 March 2015