Freak shows were a very popular medium of entertainment in Europe and the United States of America for the major part of the 19th century. These formally organized exhibitions presented people with various physical deformities and anomalies, such as conjoined twins, people with extra limbs or no limbs, midgets, giants, as well as fabricated human exhibits such as cannibals and savages. “Living skeletons” were part of the freak show’s repertoire. These were often men with unusually thin bodies.
One of the most famous ‘living skeletons’, or ‘human skeletons’ as they were sometimes referred to, was Claude Ambroise Seurat.
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Claude Ambroise Seurat, the living skeleton. Photo: Wellcome Collection