Tag Archives: ergotism

Amputations

Amputations were gruesome affairs before the advent of anesthesia. In the civilian population they would have been done mainly for ischemia, gangrene, and infections. In the image shown on the left, the man standing in the background wears a letter tau to indicate that he had suffered from St. Anthony’s fire, ergotism. He presumably has […]

The Isenheim Altarpiece and ‘homeopathic’ hospital art

Katrina Genuis Canada   Figure 1: Isenheim Altarpiece, First View. Matthias Grünewald, 1512-1516. Unterlindin Museum, Colmar, France. Source. Art found in hospitals generally has the aim of comforting the viewer. Presumably, ill patients or exhausted on-call physicians who amble past pastoral countryside scenes or watercolour flowers are reminded that despite their current difficultly there is […]

The plague of ergotism and the grace of God

 Wilson F. Engel Gilbert, Arizona, USA   Detail of a patient suffering from advanced ergotism in the Isenheim Altarpiece Matthias Grünewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece Musée d’Unterlinden, France   Perhaps the best known and least forgettable of all Renaissance art works depicting the graphic effects of disease is Matthias Grünewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece (1506-1515), now in the Musée d’Unterlinden, Colmar.1 […]

Bread of life and death

Juliet Beckman Hubbell Littleton, Colorado, United States Isenheim Altarpiece, 1512–1516 Matthias Grünewald Oil on panel Musée d’Unterlinden, Colmar, France One of the world’s greatest masterpieces is often and mysteriously excluded from the common pilgrimages educated tourists make in their travels. While crowds will mill about the Mona Lisa in Paris or endure hours of air travel and […]