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An English rural apothecary's shop in which women apothecaries produce eye-lotion from their own urine. Watercolour by Thomas Rowlandson, ca. 1800 (?).

Rowlandson, Thomas, 1756-1827.

About this work


The watercolour shows a rural medical practitioner, a woman, not young, using her own urine to create a medicine which she offers for sale for rubbing on the eyes to dispel bad humours of the eye. She urinates in the right foreground into a funnel over a chemical vessel; another, younger woman urinates in the left background into a funnel placed in a barrel, and a cat urinates in the left foreground on to the ground "Humours in the eyes" which are mentioned on the signboard seem to have been a kind of disease, possibly cataract. The recipe book of Deborah Bragge (also called Deborah Branch), Wellcome Library MS 1343, has a recipe "For a homour in the eyes. Take a popey head break it into half a pint of watter Lett it be ready to boil then take it off and dape the eyes with it it curred Dr Trotters childs eyes for a homour that fell in them after the small pox" (fol. 79r)


The village doctress distilling eyewater



Physical description

1 painting : watercolour ; sheet 22.2 x 18.3 cm, mount 28.2 x 24.6 cm


Wellcome Library no. 645283i


  • English


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