Professor Blumenbach of Göttingen’s views on beauty in women

T Bell, MD, Kalogynomia, or the laws of female beauty (1821):

Professor Blumenbach of Göttingen, whose profound science and perfect impartiality no one can doubt, does not hesitate to say, that the English are the most beautiful people on the globe. Nor is this wonderful when we consider that ENGLAND, perhaps exclusively, presents the combination of those circumstances which are essentially favourable to beauty. In English women, moreover, beauty,from the softness of its forms, the fairness of the skin, &c. has a character peculiarly feminine.

It has to be said that this is not a view I have heard much expressed in Spain, where prevailing opinion (that is, opinion currently prevailing over mine) is that English women are ugly boozing sluts. Maybe medicine or women have changed. More from Dr Bell:

In FRANCE, the most beautiful women are those about Marseilles, Avignon, and throughout the greater part of Provence, which were formerly peopled by a Greek colony from Phocis. The graceful, yet somewhat theatrical ease of the Parisian women is well known.

The women of the southern countries of Europe are brunettes, with sparkling eyes and warm complexions. Beauty is by no means general among the women of ITALY; yet, in many parts of that country women of extraordinary beauty are to be seen, and among some of these that quality, is said to reach the highest perfection.

The most beautiful women of SPAIN are said to be found in the neighbourhood of Cadiz; and those of PORTUGAL in the town of Guimanarez. hopes to offer weekends in Guimanarez just as soon as we find out where the heck it is.

A warning re the illustrations:

Nota Bene.—Plates 10, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24 should not be carelessly exposed either to Ladies or to Young Persons. These Plates are therefore stitched up separately. As the work is a scientific one, and calculated both by its mode of construction and by its price for the higher and more reflecting class of readers, and as the plates above enumerated are also entirely scientific and anatomical, the Publisher might have dispensed with this precaution; but he is anxious that these readers should have it in their power to obviate the possibility of the cartless exposure of such anatomical Plates: they are therefore detached from the work, and may be locked up separately.

They’re at the end.

Dr Bell’s views sound remarkably similar to those of Mercier de Compiègne in his famous treatise, Éloge du sein des femmes, but let us go no further today.

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Last updated 25/02/2008

This post pre-dates my organ-grinding days, and may be imported from elsewhere.

Avignon (1): Avignon is a commune in south-eastern France in the department of Vaucluse on the left bank of the Rhône river.

Cadiz (8):


  1. Guimarães é uma cidade portuguesa situada no Distrito de Braga, região Norte e subregião do Ave (uma das subregiões mais industrializadas do país), com uma população de 52 182 habitantes …

    De Compiègne appears to admit that what he’s saying about tétons is not original, bless him: « … il faudrait avoir vu tous les pays du monde pour décider quels sont ceux pour lesquels les tétons viennent le mieux, et je n’ai voyagé qu’en Suisse et en Allemagne. »

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