Phrenology, the "science of the bumps of the skull" devised by the German physician Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828) claimed to be able to assess the moral and intellectual abilities of a person by examining the bulges of his skull. Gall defines 27 spots which constitute a reference grid to understand human nature (benevolence, pride, vanity, destructivity, memory for things, arithmetic...). To prove his thesis, he had hundreds of castings of exceptional men’s skulls and busts made: Raphael, Dante, even the Marquis de Sade!
Phrenology was not taught in French medical schools, although some members of the medical elite were filled with enthusiasm for its ideas: François Broussais gave private lessons. A society was created in Paris in 1831, and even a museum.