A dying man surrounded by fantastic and mythological figures. Coloured etching.

  • Pictures

Selected images from this work

View 2 images

About this work


The two references to the Jesuits may provide the key to the print. The Jesuit order was repressed in France in 1764. The gravestone from which the skeleton emerges says 'Here lies the Society of Jesus 17..' which may indicate the contemporaneity of the events surrounding the suppression of the Jesuits

A bearded god holds a pump to the dying man's head, to which the latter is holding his left hand; the names detailed below spume out of a funnel on the pump. A Medusa figure in a red skirt lunges at the dying man with a fork-tongued serpent and a dagger. Mercury stands behind her on a pedestal with the caduceus in his left hand. A skeleton in a blue priestly vestment blows out of a hole in the bottom left-hand corner and points at the man; behind him lurk a scythe and hourglass. Between the skeleton and the Medusa, a woman with a drum lies on the floor. Behind the bed a figure with "l'Academie" written above its blank face holds the hand of a blindfolded god who lifts a wreath above the dying man's head. One of the three gods pictured in the top right-hand corner holds a large leaf in the manner of a pen and in the other hand a mirror. In the bottom right-hand corner a harlequin with a puppet modelled upon himself turns the tap affixed to the head of a large, forlorn centaur which drips into the vase marked "Gouttes d'Hoffman"

Physical description

1 print : etching, with watercolour ; image 30.4 x 40.8 cm


Hospice des incurables ... Lettering above door: "Salle des agonisans". The jar and pedestal by the centaur read: "Gouttes d'Hoffman. Fin du procès &c. Risum teneatis". By the centaur's hoof is written: "le mérite le bon sens &c &c". On the stone that covered the hole in the bottom left-hand corner: "Ilic jacet xxxx societatis Jesu 17.." In the hand of Mercury: "Projets de canevas". A crowned woman on the left-hand pedestal holds a sheet that reads: "la mere intrigante"; a peacock stands next to it. The dying man holds a sheet that reads: "les deux", while the black bird holds a sheet next to it that says: "gendres". The angel in the top right-hand corner writes "vie de" on a sheet of paper while a goddess figure with a trumpet points at him. The tap spurts out the names of eighteenth century writers: Abbé Geoffroy, Bernard Piron, Louis-Simon Auger, Franc̦ois Andrieux, Fabien Pillet, Charles-Hubert Millevoye, Charles Perrault, E.T. Hoffman, and also "esprit du Jesuit", "Martinville" and "Nanteuil", perhaps Céléstin Nanteuil, an illustrator


Wellcome Collection 16062i



Where to find it

  • LocationStatusAccess
    Closed stores

Permanent link