The vivisector asked to choose between head and heart. Photogravure, 1886, after an etching by M.J. Holzapfl after a painting by Gabriel von Max, 1883.
- Max, Gabriel Cornelius von, 1840-1915.
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About this work
Entitled "The vivisector", the print shows on the left a physiologist sitting at a table (left) equipped with steel bars and ropes for restraining animals used for experiment. He turns round to look at a woman who holds a puppy in her right arm. In her left hand she holds a balance containing, in one pan, a brain bedecked with a wreath, which is outweighed by the other pan containing a heart smouldering with the fire of love. The painter suggests that our emotional sympathy for the puppy should outweigh the cerebral knowledge that we may have that the sufferings of the animal used in animal experiments can bring benefits
Der Vivisector. Gabriel Max pxt. ; M.J. Holzapfl sct. Vervielfältigung vorbehalten.
Wien [Vienna] : Druck. & Verlag der Gesellschaft f. vervielf. Kunst in Wien, 
1 print : photogravure ; platemark 23 x 33 cm
W. Schupbach, 'A select iconography of animal experiment', in N. Rupke, ed., Vivisection in historical perspective, London 1987, pp. 340-360 and p. 212, pl. 4
Wellcome Library no. 528621i
Gabriel Max was himself a philosopher and naturalist as well as a painter very well known in his time for his singeries (paintings of monkeys performing human tasks)
After: a painting produced by Max in 1883 on canvas 101 x 167 cm. belonging to the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung, Munich, on permanent loan to the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, Munich, inv. no. FH 551; previously with Galerie Konrad Bayer and exhibited by them at the Kunst-Messe München in 2007. The painting went on tour in 1884 to Dresden, Hamburg, Düsseldorf and Vienna, and in 1885 to London, where it was exhibited under the title "The Genius of Pity staying the Vivisector's hand". It played a part in the intense conflict between the proponents and opponents of animal experiment which flared up in the 1880s owing to developments in physiology