A white horse painted with purple spots

In London in the 1770s, the “dentist” Martin van Butchell mostly sold artificial teeth and gums, and was famous for advertising his services by travelling on a white horse or pony painted with purple spots. His fame (or infamy) continued at home, as he had his wife embalmed and preserved after her death, and then set her up in a glass cabinet in his house’s front window. Reports differ as to whether this was done out of devotion, a desire to attract more business, or a secret clause in their marriage certificate, but it is certain that later when van Butchell remarried, his wife demanded Martin’s “dearly departed” be relocated.

 

Martin van Butchell. Stipple engraving, 1803. Credit: Wellcome CollectionCC BY

 


 

Winter 2020  |  Sections  |  Vignettes at Large