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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Thomas Woolner   7 April [1871]1


April 7

My dear Mr. Woolner

I dare say you often meet and know well painters. Could you persuade some trustworthy men to observe young and inexperienced girls who serve as models, and who at first blush much, how low down the body the blush extends. Several eminent surgeons have been observing for me, and with a single exception have never seen a blush extend beneath (and rarely so far down) as the upper 23 of the breasts.2

Moreau says a celebrated French painter once saw a new model blushing all over her body.3 So that I want much to hear what the experience is of cautious and careful English artists: I always distrust memory. Can you aid me?

The tips to the ears have become quite celebrated. One Reviewer (Nature) says they ought to be called, as I suggested in joke, Angulus Woolnerianus.4

A great German physiologist is very proud to find that he has tips well developed & I believe will send me a photograph of his ears; & if a good case, I think I would have it photographed on wood engraved for new Edit.5 Making of course no change in my text.

Yours very sincerely, | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Hinrich Nitsche, 18 April 1871; see n. 5, below.
See for example Correspondence vol. 17, letter to James Paget, 29 April [1869] and n. 3. CD had also asked James Crichton-Browne to observe women blushing (see Correspondence vol. 18, letter to James Crichton-Browne, 18 March 1870).
Jacques Louis Moreau de la Sarthe’s comment was reported in Lavater 1820, 4: 303–4; see Expression, pp. 314–15. The painter has not been identified.
The Angulus Woolnerii was discussed in Nature by Philip Henry Pye-Smith (Pye-Smith 1871). See also letter from Thomas Woolner, 20 February 1871 and n. 2.
No earlier letter from Hinrich Nitsche has been found, but see the letter from Hinrich Nitsche, 18 April 1871. CD did not add pictures of Nitsche’s ears to any edition of Descent.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Lavater, Gaspard. 1820. L’art de connaître les hommes par la physionomie. New edition by M. Moreau de la Sarthe. 10 vols. Paris: Depélafol.

LL: The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter. Edited by Francis Darwin. 3 vols. London: John Murray. 1887–8.

Pye-Smith, Philip Henry. 1871. Review of Descent of man, by Charles Darwin. Nature, 6 April 1871, pp. 442–4, 13 April 1871, pp. 463–5.

Woolner, Amy. 1917. Thomas Woolner, R.A., sculptor and poet: his life in letters. London: Chapman and Hall.


Asks TW to persuade painters to observe how far down body blush extends on models.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Woolner
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 148: 381, Woolner 1917, p. 288
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7665,” accessed on 25 February 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19