Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

The Bitter Potion by Adriaen Brouwer

It has long been the belief of the prescribing professions that medicines work better if they can impress the recipients by their efficacy. A painful injection may thus work better than a painless one, and an intramuscular injection of ascorbic acid will remind the patient of its continuing efficacy for at least one week. A bitter medicine is likely to be more restorative than a sugar-coated or sweetened one, as shown in the 1636 painting by Adriaen Brouwer, now displayed at the Stadel Museum in Frankfurt.

Brouwer, a Flemish artist highly appreciated by Rubens, worked in Antwerp from 1631 until his early death in 1638. He specialized in painting peasants and other members of the lower classes shown in taverns or rural settings.

GEORGE DUNEA, MD, Editor-in-Chief

Summer 2019



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