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

Méheux hand colored a photograph taken of a patient suffering from scarlet fever/scarletina.

Méheux hand colored a photograph taken of a patient suffering from scarlet fever/scarletina.

In his formative career, Corlett worked as a dresser at the Hôpital Saint-Louis, Paris during the early 1880s3 The Hôpital was furnished with a museum founded in 1865 on the dermatological watercolors donated by the physician Alphonse Devergie (1798–1879). A collection of wax moulages was added during the early 1860 s by the dermatologist Charles Lailler (1828–1898), followed by a museum of dermatological photographs in 1896.4 Félix Méheux (1838–1908) was a photographer and an outstanding colorist at the Hôpital Saint-Louis from 1884 to 1904. During 1899–1900, Corlett visited Paris to enlist the services of Méheux. In the Preface of Corlett’s Treatize he wrote that in order “To render them more life-like I secured the services of Félix Méheux, dessinateur of the Hôpital St Louis, Paris, to color the photographs.”5

Corlett continued “The truthfulness in detail of photographic reproductions, and the gratifying reception accorded the author’s lantern slide demonstrations of the acute exanthemata, having suggested to him that the time is opportune for a separate work on this important group of diseases. To further enhance its usefulness, and in order to reproduce in color certain negatives requiring special demonstration, the services of Félix Méheux, dessinateur et photographie [designer and photographer] at the Hôpital St Louis, Paris have been secured, whose life-like illustrations in Chatelain’s admirable work on diseases of the skin have sufficiently introduced him to the medical profession.6 In this way the most delicate shades of color have been given, not only as peculiar to the particular diseases, but when thought desirable, the various stages through which they pass have been illustrated in color, as well as the conditions most liable to mask their appearance.”7

In total, Méheux hand colored 11 photographs for Corlett, including cases of variola, varicella, scarletina, rubeola, and rubella. The original photographs hand colored by Méheux form part of Corlett’s photographic collection housed at the Dittrick. They bear Corlett’s detailed and comprehensive instructions written to Méheux (in French) and to the publishers (in English).

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