The hashish inspired art of Jean-Martin Charcot

While searching for material on the famous 19th Century French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, I noticed that a number of online art shops sell drawings he did, apparently while under the influence of hashish – so I’ve been trying to find out more.


The strip above is only part of the image, as despite the fact that it is now in the public domain, most of the online sources deliberately obscure it, presumably in an attempt to get you to buy their posters while pissing off potential customers at the same time.

However, it seems that the picture is likely to be genuine. This is from a book on Charcot’s life where a contemporary recounts their hashish smoking escapades:

As soon as he was under the influence of the narcotic, a tumult of phantasmogoric visions flashed across his mind. The entire page was covered with drawings: prodigious dragons, grimacing monsters, incoherent personages who were superimposed on each other and who were intertwined and twisted in a fabulous whirlpool bringing to mind the apocalyptic visions of Van Bosh and Jacques Callot.

A 2004 article in the medical journal European Neurology discussed his lifelong interest in art and drawing, and contains a sketch of a scene from Hell also apparently created while stoned.

If anyone does know of a high quality online source of these drawings online, do let me know, as I’d particularly love to see the larger image in its full glorious detail.

Link to European Neurology on ‘Charcot and Art: From a Hobby to Science’.
Link to PubMed entry for same.

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