Bethlem Royal Hospital Museum

Poignant artwork from one of the world’s oldest hospitals for the treatment of mental illness.

Protecting the Heart (detail), c.1993 (graphite & oil on canvas with string & iron), Elise Pacquette (b.1968)
 
 
 
Bridgeman is proud to represent the Bethlem Royal Hospital Museum for image licensing. 
 
Founded in 1967, the museum preserves the long history of Bethlem and its sister hospital, the Maudsley.
 
 
 
Historical and Contemporary Art
 
Objects displayed in the museum include the historical sculptures of Melancholia and Raving Madness by renowned sculptor Caius Cibber, which graced the gates of the 18th century hospital. The gallery's extensive and growing collection exhibits works by artists who have experienced mental distress, including art by Bethlem patients past and present.

Through its exhibitions, the Gallery hopes to promote public understanding and de-stigmatisation of mental illness.

 

Raving Madness, c.1670-1700 (carved stone), Caius Gabriel Cibber (1630-1700)
Raving Madness, c.1670-1700 (carved stone), Caius Gabriel Cibber (1630-1700)

 

 

Depression II (detail), 1975 (oil on board), Marion Patrick (1940-93)
Depression II (detail), 1975 (oil on board), Marion Patrick (1940-93)

 

 
 
 
Communicating mental distress
 
Bethlem runs a small, artist-led gallery and workshop that encourages patients to experiment and collaborate in a safe, artistic environment. Art is seen as a means of facilitating recovery, or as a way of expressing the effects of mental health difficulties.
 
These poignant images offer invaluable insight for anyone wishing to explore the sensitive issues surrounding wellbeing and art, that cannot be communicated through words or documentary photography. 
 
 
Notable artists
 
 
Many works in Bethlem’s gallery were produced by professional artists whose mental health deteriorated later in their careers, including
 
- Richard Dadd, who was trained at the Royal Academy, London
 
- Charlotte Johnson, who depicted her experiences of therapy while staying at Maudsley hospital
 
Bryan Charnley, who studied at art college before being hospitalised with schizophrenia at the age of 25

 

To the Farm, c.1987 (oil on canvas), Bryan Charnley (1949-91)
To the Farm, c.1987 (oil on canvas), Bryan Charnley (1949-91)

 

 

Kaleidoscope Cats II (chalk, pastels & coloured pencil on paper), Louis Wain (1860-1939)
Kaleidoscope Cats II (chalk, pastels & coloured pencil on paper), Louis Wain (1860-1939)

 

 
 
Louis Wain
 
One of Bethlem’s most notorious artists is Louis Wain, best known for his drawings of cats.
 
Originally an art journalist, his whimsical cat images proved hugely popular from the 1880s onwards. In addition to feline subjects he also drew colourful landscapes, exotic nature scenes and, infrequently, dogs. 
 
Even after he was institutionalised, Wain continued to create works and hold exhibitions until his death.
 
 
 
 
Find out more
 
See all images from Bethlem Royal Hospital Museum for licensing
 
Contact us for any image copyright or licensing enquiries
 
Find out more about Bethlem’s clinical services

 

 

Patent Cork Screws, c.1908 (ink on paper), Louis Wain (1860-1939)
Patent Cork Screws, c.1908 (ink on paper), Louis Wain (1860-1939)

 


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