Tag Archives: Vignettes at Large

St. Francis heals a leper

Giuseppe Maria Crespi (1665-1747) was a Bolognese painter nicknamed “the Spanish One” (Lo Spagnuolo) because he wore tight clothes characteristic of the Spanish fashion of the time. In this paining from the Brera, Milan, he shows St. Francis healing a leper by touching the shoulder which presumably had been affected by the disease. Saint Francis […]

Mandarin doctor examines the patient’s pulse

This nineteenth century Mandarin doctor is flouting the traditionally accepted rules of medical examination of inspection, palpation, percussion, and auscultation. He is intently focusing on the patient’s pulse but seems to have omitted the preliminary step of inspection in that he is looking away from his patient instead of looking at her. Credit: A doctor […]

Hippocrates by the bedside

This rather unwell looking patient is being fed or medicated by a physician supposed to be Hippocrates, assisted by a wide-eyed female professional. De regimine acutorum was published in England in the thirteenth century. The image (on the left) is an enlarged historiated initial from the medieval illuminated manuscript (shown on the right). Hippocrates Medicates […]

The consultation or last hope, by Thomas Rowlandson (1808)

Five doctors have been called in consultation to see an obese patient suffering from gout. An old nurse on the left is deeply asleep. Several other doctors shown on the right are waiting their turn to give their opinion—in this age when consultation by multiple physicians was the custom. The Consultation or Last Hope, by […]

Florence Nightingale at Scutari

When Florence Nightingale arrived at Scutari during the Crimean War, the army hospital was filthy and rat-infested, and among the 2,000 wounded lying there the mortality was fifty percent. After she reorganized the wards and insisted on absolute cleanliness, mortality declined to a little over one percent. The Mission of Mercy: Florence Nightingale receiving the […]

Steam powered machine to pull a tooth

This nightmarish sketch of a steam powered dental device is the product of the fantasy of an unknown artist. It mercifully never became a reality, but in a way illustrates the common perception of medicine and dentistry during the late 1800s. A scientist using a steam machine with pulley to extract a tooth from a […]

Tuttle’s Family Elixir

This advertisement in The Southern Planter is for Tuttle’s Family Elixir, a cure-all from the early 1900s. It was promoted by Tuttle’s Elixir Co. as designed “for ills of men, women and children,” advertised in conjunction with Tuttle’s main product, a leg and body wash for racehorses. Tuttle’s Family Elixir by Unknown. C. 1900. Philadelphia […]

The Anatomist

This 1811 caricature shows a red-faced anatomist, knife in hand. Behind him, a young man had fallen asleep, and the anatomist had mistaken him for dead, covering him with a sheet. The young woman in the center of the image attempts to change the anatomist’s mind, but he appears ready to begin his dissection anyway. […]

Spectacle seller

In an often repeated theme, Adriaen van Ostade (1610–1685), painter of the Dutch Golden Age, presents a spectacle seller. He offers his wares to an older woman, watched by a child or perhaps an apprentice of the seller. As we can see in his hands, the spectacles are without temples to rest on the ear […]

Practical hydrotherapy

Water in the form of bathing and other techniques has been used since antiquity to relieve pain and promote healing. Also called water cure, it is now regarded as part of alternative medicine, often combined with massage, relaxation, and physiotherapy. It was particularly promoted in the early 1900s by Dr. Curran Pope, who claimed it […]