Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Gerrit Dou and his Netherlandish quacks

Gerrit Dou (1613-1675), one of Rembrandt’s first students, was born thirteen years before his contemporary Jan Steen and died four years before him. Both painted similar works of contrasting light and dark, both lived most of their lives in Leiden, and both included in their work several scenes illustrating healthcare in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century. At that time, uroscopists had already come to be regarded as quacks and made fun of by artists for their attire and pretentious manner, as shown in the two upper panels. In the lower left painting we see another quack working on a patient to remove a tooth. The painting from the Louvre on the lower right is titled the The Dropsical Woman. She has neither swelling of her feet, nor of her abdomen and indeed the painting was so named at some stage of the eighteenth century for no clear reason.

GEORGE DUNEA, MD, Editor-in-Chief

Summer 2018



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