The collections of Dr William Thomas Corlett (1854–1948)

Leman, hand colorist

Undeterred however, Corlett continued to see the value of hand colored photographs of dermatological cases. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries W.H. Leman hand colored 20 photographs in Corlett’s collection. The subtle hand tinting, which may have been achieved with special photographic dyes, allows one to see the underlying image and is therefore less painterly than the coloring done by Méheux. Some prints are signed “W.H. Leman” or “W.H.L.”, whilst others may be attributed to him due his distinctive style. He hand colored photographs for a series of cases including leprosy, mycosis fungoides, pellagra, and syphilis.

In 1910, Corlett published a “Report on Eight Cases of Syphilis Treated with Ehrlich’s Arseno-Benzol ‘606’.”8 Ten ampulae of the drug were sent to Corlett for experimental purposes by Dr Simon Flexner from the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research.9 Although useful for malignant cases, Corlett was concerned about the long-term consequences of using Arseno-Benzol. In an explanatory note Corlett recalls that:

“When Ehrlich discovered SALVARSAN – then known as ‘606’– a supply was sent to this country to be distributed to clinicians who were working in this field. I was furnished a supply for 3 months. At that time, it was necessary to hospitalize cases. I succeeded in obtaining beds for a few cases at Lakeside Hospital, Charity Hospital, St Alexis Hospital, and the City Hospital. At the end of three months, I held a clinic in Lakeside Hospital amphitheatre inviting physicians in this section of the country from Buffalo to Toledo, south to Columbus, – and showed photographs before treatment with the patients after three months’ treatment, with what was then known as ‘606’. The results were startling …”10

Although Corlett rarely refers to using photographs in his lectures and demonstrations, two photographs perhaps shown by him at this clinic relating to the Salvarsan trials form part of the photographic collections.

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