Despite William Hunter's stature as one of the most important collectors and men of science of the eighteenth century, and the fact that his collection is the foundation of Scotland's oldest public museum, The Hunterian, until now there has been no comprehensive examination in a single volume of all his collections in their diversity. This volume restores Hunter to a rightful position of prominence among the medical men whose research and amassing of specimens transformed our understanding of the natural world and man's position within it. This volume comprises essays by international specialists and are as diverse as Hunter's collections themselves, dealing as they do with material that ranges from medical and scientific specimens, to painting, prints, books and manuscripts. The first sections focus upon Hunter's own collection and his response to it, while the final section contextualises Hunter within the wider sphere. A special feature of the volume is the inclusion of references to the Hunterian's web pages and on-line databases. These enable searches for items from Hunter's collections, both from his museum and library. Locating Hunter's collecting within the broader context of his age and environment, this book provides an original approach to a man and collection whose importance has yet to be comprehensively assessed.
"William Hunter’s world is an excellent demonstration of how the histories of art and science can be enriched through attention to their intertwined material cultures. Interesting themes to emerge include the idea of encounters and exchanges within the collection; Hunter’s use of objects for teaching and research; museum documentation and what it can tell us about the emergence, transformation or dying away of disciplines; and questions of privacy in an era when dissection was conducted in private but its products were placed on display. The title provides a solid foundation for future William Hunter studies."
- Felicity Roberts, in Archives of Natural History, 2017