Tag Archives: Jan Steen

A physician and a pregnant patient

A very pregnant young woman, not feeling her best, is sitting with a doctor in consultation. Another woman in the background is holding a container full of urine that the doctor will examine. But presumably the doctor has already determined what ails the patient, for he is writing a prescription. The ubiquitous chamber pot is […]

A physician examining a patient’s urine

This painting from the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford shows a physician uroscopist examining a specimen of urine in order to determine what was ailing his patient. It is a serious painting, unlike that of Dutch artists such as Jan Steen who regarded uroscopists as quacks and made fun of their pretentious mien and attire. The […]

Jan Steen: quack doctors visit lovesick maidens

Like his contemporary Molière, the Dutchman Jan Steen makes fun of quack doctors, often shown in ridiculous costumes visiting young love-sick or pregnant women. In the Lovesick Maiden (Fig.1, Metropolitan Museum) the diagnosis is suggested by the painting of a Cupid above the door, the bed on the right, and the bed-warmer on the lower […]

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 […]

Jan Steen: quack doctors visit lovesick maidens

Like his contemporary Molière, the Dutchman Jan Steen makes fun of quack doctors, often shown in ridiculous costumes visiting young love-sick or pregnant women. In the Lovesick Maiden (Fig.1, Metropolitan Museum) the diagnosis is suggested by the painting of a Cupid above the door, the bed on the right, and the bed-warmer on the lower […]

The doctor in literature: the abortion and the abortionist

Solomon Posen Sydney, Australia “I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art.”1 “It’s an awfully simple operation.”2   The Doctor and His Patient By Jan Steen, Dutch (1626-1679) Oil on canvas, 76 x 64 cm Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam The […]

The pulsilogium and the diagnosis of love sickness

Donatella Lippi Giuseppe Mascia Luigi Padeletti Florence, Italy   Doctors since time immemorial have felt the pulse of their patients, noting its regularity, frequency, strength, and breadth, at times using colorful expressions to variously describe it as “formicant” or “vermicular” (ant-like or worm-like),1 and diagnosing “love sickness” in maidens by the presence of the so-called […]

Art and the myth of the “wandering womb”

Laurinda S. Dixon New York, United States   The Doctor’s Visit, 1663 Jan Steen Taft Museum of Art Seventeenth-century Dutch paintings bearing modern titles such as “The Doctor’s Visit” or “The Lovesick Maiden” are common.1 They were once produced in great numbers and, with some variations, illustrate the same thing. The example by Jan Steen […]

Art and Medicine

JMS Pearce East Yorks, England   Art has been said to deepen compassion for suffering.1 Paintings have been interpreted as “metaphors for human feelings . . . they are nonliteral symbols of the inner life.”2 Paintings trigger emotions and insights, “generating associations and tapping new, different, or deeper levels of meaning.”3 It is inherent in all […]