Medical art from the Brukenthal Museum, Sibiu, Romania

Alexandru Sonoc
Sibiu, Romania


Several works in the European collection of the Brukenthal National Museum are of interest to the history of medicine. Most of them are works by Dutch and Flemish painters, mainly from the 17th-century: The Summer by Jakob Jordaens, The Trapped Peasant by Adriaen van der Venne, The Bloodletting and The Diagnosis by Hendrik Goovaerts, The Village’s Quack by Joost van Craesbeeck, The Medical Examination by David Teniers the Younger, and Portrait of a Peasant by an anonymous painter of the late 17th-century or from the first half of the 18th-century. Also exhibited are a large portrait of Paracelsus by F. Göritz, a 20th-century German or Austrian painter; a modern Hungarian painting dated 1880; several works on uroscopy and uromancy; a painting illustrating the practice of blood-letting as a treatment of quite all kinds of diseases; and another painting showing a village’s quack or physician.

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Though of interest from other points of view, these paintings have not been exhibited in the context of medical history. Also, with the exception of the works by Jordaens and Teniers the Younger, these paintings are not well known outside Romania, not only because they were less studied, but also because of the mediocre condition in which most are preserved.

Some of them are shown in this article, and all are displayed with accompanying details as Art Flashes. See below:

The summer
The village physician
The village uroscopist
Paracelsus: physician and alchemist
The trapped peasant
Portrait of a peasant
Evidence of a skull trepanning



ALEXANDRU GH. SONOC, PhD, MA, MS, is the Director of the Brukenthal National Museum in Sibiu, Romania.


Highlighted in Frontispiece Winter 2014 – Volume 6, Issue 1
Winter 2014  |  Sections  |  Art Flashes