The Sick Rose




Astonishing images of the dissected and diseased … superbly erudite and lucid accompanying text … Here we see unpacked the mortal elements of many anonymous individuals — and by extension our own’ — Will Self, The Guardian


Introducing The Sick Rose ¶ or; Disease and the Art of Medical Illustration — the latest book we designed for Thames & Hudson. A beautifully gruesome and enthralling visual tour through disease in an age before colour photography. Brilliantly written by Richard Barnett — an academic medical historian — and exquisitely illustrated with images from some of the world’s rarest medical books from the Wellcome Collection. This book forms an unforgettable and profoundly human reminder of mankind’s struggle with disease.


The design is a contemporary interpretation of Victorian ornamentation. Inspired in equal measures by utilitarian hospital forms, pharmaceutical packaging and the sparse, elegant composition of medical typography from the period. Set in Johnston, a quintessentially English typeface, that was originally commissioned in 1913 to be have a ‘bold simplicity of the authentic lettering of the finest periods’ and to simultaneously belong ‘unmistakably to the twentieth century’.


To accompany the launch of The Sick Rose, The Wellcome Collection is hosting a series of talks by Dr Richard Barnett exploring the astonishing and sometimes gruesome worlds of anatomical discovery and medical illustration.