Historical Images from The Wellcome Library Collections

Over 100,000 high resolution images including manuscripts, paintings, etchings, early photography and advertisements are now freely available through Wellcome Images. The images range from ancient medical manuscripts to etchings by artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Francisco Goya.

This unrivalled collection contains Tibetan Buddhist paintings, ancient Sanskrit manuscripts written on palm leaves, beautifully illuminated Persian books and much more. The earliest item is an Egyptian prescription on papyrus, and treasures include exquisite medieval illuminated manuscripts and anatomical drawings, from delicate 16th century fugitive sheets, whose hinged paper flaps reveal hidden viscera to Paolo Mascagni’s vibrantly coloured etching of an ‘exploded’ torso.

Other treasures include a beautiful Persian horoscope for the 15th-century Prince Iskandar, sharply sketched satires by Rowlandson, Gillray and Cruikshank, as well as photography from Eadweard Muybridge’s studies of motion.

John Thomson’s remarkable nineteenth century portraits from his travels in China can be downloaded, as well a newly added series of photographs of hysteric and epileptic patients at the famous Salpêtrière Hospital. Simon Chaplin, Head of the Wellcome Library, says: “Together the collection amounts to an amazing visual record of centuries of human culture, and our attempts to understand our bodies, minds and health through art and observation”.

  • Item Type

    Books, Drawings, Manuscripts, Photographs

  • Spatial Coverage

    Multiple Areas

  • Time Coverage

    Multiple Eras