The countries of Europe representing physicians and surgeons trying to regenerate a woman personifying the Dutch republic. Etching attributed to James Gillray, 1796, after David Hess.
- Hess, David, 1770-1843.
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In the centre sits a distressed woman wearing a bonnet marked "Rep: Bat" (Batavian republic): her breasts are exposed, her feet are placed in a tub of water, and her right arm is being phlebotomised by a surgeon who has placed his lancet on her knee. The blood spouts from the inside of her elbow as if an artery had been pierced instead of a vein. Left, an officer holding a clyster under his arm; behind, a man with chequered trousers (hence a zany, companion to a quack doctor) holding up a staff of Aesculapius and a medicine bottle marked "Tinct. Univer."; right, a corpulent physician taking the woman's pulse by embracing her left arm while holding something in his mouth (pipe? pomander? top of cane?); behind, a man crossing his index finger and thumb (the gesture used by figures in paintings by Jan Steen to imply that a woman attended by a physician is sex-starved); right foreground, a man who has in his pocket a book entitled "Traité sur la Reconnaissance": he is identified in the British Museum catalogue as "'Citoyen L' who owes everything to the ex-Stadholder". On the ground is a prescription "R
Het committè de Santè
[London] : [H. Humphrey?], [1797?]
1 print : etching, printed in sanguine ; platemark 27.3 x 22 cm
Accompanied in the series by text from Old Testament selected from a concordance by Hess (Eschmann p. 69), Jeremiah, LI, 9: "We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies."
British Museum, Catalogue of political and personal satires, vol. 7, London 1942, no. 8860
Ernst Eschmann, David Hess (1770-1843): sein Leben und seine Werke, Aarau 1910, pp. 68-72
Wellcome Library no. 532358i
Eschmann p. 70 says that the drawings by Hess were "von dem berühmten englischen Kupferstecher Humphries radiert und in London gedruckt. Zugleich verbesserte er Zeichnungsfehler, hob die characteristischen Elemente des Originals mehr heraus und brachte das Ganze noch durch Schattierung in Haltung". The Harvard catalogue (Hollis plus, 2001) says for that reason that the attribution to Gillray is wrong. Yet as the British Museum catalogue says, in view of the figure-style, it is more reasonable to infer from these words that the drawings were entrusted to Hannah Humphrey to have etched and published, and that Gillray, whose prints she published, did the etching, than to suppose that William Humphrey or Ozias Humphry did the etching in the manner of Gillray