In 1801, sculptor Thomas Bank and artists Richard Crossway and Benjamin West, with the help of surgeon Joseph Constantine Carpue, nailed and flayed the body of James Legg to a wooden crucifix. Legg, who was hanged only hours before, became one of the most notorious ‘art exhibits’ of the age.
The artists’ erection of the statue on the wooden structure demonstrated how a crucified body would hang, and revealed that early depictions were anatomically inaccurate. The image of Legg’s lifeless body on the cross went on to inspire artists and inform Bible scholars.
Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men opens at the Museum of London from 19 October 2012 to 14 April 2013.
The story and image also featured in The Guardian.