The year 1887 is memorable in medical history for the painting depicting ‘Une leçon du Docteur Charcot à la Salpêtrière’ by André Brouillet (1857–1914), a pupil of Gérôme. Lithographs by Eugene Pirodon of this painting were much reproduced and Sigmund Freud hung a copy in his consulting room. In fact, Freud had travelled from Vienna to Paris, in October 1885, to observe the work of Jean-Martin Charcot at the Salpêtrière. Charcot's views about hysteria and hypnosis were to have a formative and enduring influence on Freud, who returned home, four and a half months later, as one of Charcot's unqualified admirers and champions. It is timely, exactly a century later, to reflect on Charcot's work and influence, when his career was at its zenith and, in particular, to consider his impact on British psychological medicine.