Hugh Welch Diamond

Dates1809 - 1886
RolesArtist, Photographer
BornKent, England
DiedTwickenham, England

From 1848 to 1858 Dr. Hugh Welch Diamond made photographs to document the facial expressions of patients suffering from mental disorders at the Surrey County Asylum in England where he was superintendent of the female department. He believed that a patient's mental state was manifested in her physiognomy, or facial features, and he claimed to use these photographs to help diagnose the disorders. Although Diamond published a paper on this subject, the practical results of this photo-therapy are unknown.

As an avid amateur, Diamond made his first photograph just three months after William Henry Fox Talbot introduced his invention of photography in 1839. Diamond held a weekly gathering of artistic and literary friends at his home in Wandsworth, London, and later near Richmond, Surrey. In 1853, the Photographic Society of London was born out of this group; Diamond was a founding member, Secretary, and editor of the Society's Photographic Journal for ten years. A Fellow and honorary photographer of the Society of Antiquaries, Diamond also photographed antiquities and wrote weekly articles on photography for an antiquarian periodical.