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Pioneering ‘Polite’ Models of Disability in Eighteenth-Century London: Matthias Buchinger’s Self-Portrait (1724) and William Hay’s Deformity: An Essay (1754), Anne-Noëlle Pinnegar

Set against a contextual backdrop of contemporary British artists championing disability, this article explores changing attitudes to the self-fashioning of the disabled or impaired human body within emerging discourses of eighteenth-century sensibility, focusing on two contemporary self-portraits authored by ‘deformed’ individuals: an engraving by the celebrated entertainer, Matthias Buchinger (1674-1739) born a phocomelic – without lower arms and legs; and the autobiographical treatise, Deformity: An Essay (1754), by the self-declared hunchback, writer and politician, William Hay MP (1695-1755). Both these works, it is argued, represent landmarks in disability history, standing as pioneering models which continue to find resonance within disability culture today.

Date created: 
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Attribution for this resource:
Pioneering ‘Polite’ Models of Disability in Eighteenth-Century London: Matthias Buchinger’s Self-Portrait (1724) and William Hay’s Deformity: An Essay (1754), Anne-Noëlle Pinnegar, All rights reserved.