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The Leech and His Patient, Illustration for The Scarlet Letter

Felix Octavius Carr Darley

American Art

Executed in the spare linear style that characterizes the work of F. O. C. Darley, this ink drawing portrays a scene from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter (originally published in 1850), in which Roger Chillingworth, a physician and Hester Prynne’s long-lost husband, tries to convince the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, her lover, to confess the secret affair. Notwithstanding the economy of his line, Darley used body language and richly detailed period costume and setting to dramatize the story. For example, Chillingworth’s crooked pose reflects his bent for revenge, and Dimmesdale’s gesture of clutching his heart alludes to the scarlet A (for “adulteress”) that Hester wears on her chest.
MEDIUM Brown-black ink with graphite underdrawing on cream, thick, very smooth, highly calendered wove paper.
DATES ca. 1878
DIMENSIONS Image: 12 x 16 5/16 in. (30.5 x 41.4 cm) Sheet: 16 1/16 x 22 1/4 in. (40.8 x 56.5 cm)  (show scale)
SIGNATURE Signed lower left corner of image on pipe, in ink: "F O C Darley"
INSCRIPTIONS Inscribed in graphite, upper center of sheet: "The Leech and his Patient." and at bottom center: "'Why should not the guilty ones sooner / avail themselves of this unattainable solace?'" Inscribed in ink above upper right corner of image: "5."
CREDIT LINE Gift of William A. White
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Felix Octavius Carr Darley (American, 1822–1888). The Leech and His Patient, Illustration for The Scarlet Letter, ca. 1878. Brown-black ink with graphite underdrawing on cream, thick, very smooth, highly calendered wove paper., Image: 12 x 16 5/16 in. (30.5 x 41.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of William A. White, 15.484 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 15.484_IMLS_PS4.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 15.484_IMLS_PS4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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