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A swollen and inflamed foot: gout is represented by an attacking demon. Coloured soft-ground etching by J. Gillray, 1799.

Gillray, James, 1756-1815.
Date
14 May 1799

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view A swollen and inflamed foot: gout is represented by an attacking demon. Coloured soft-ground etching by J. Gillray, 1799.
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Credit: A swollen and inflamed foot: gout is represented by an attacking demon. Coloured soft-ground etching by J. Gillray, 1799. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

About this work

Description

Gout is an intensely painful disease of the joints of the fingers and toes, and sometimes other joints. In traditional western medicine it is associated with the infusion or drip (Latin gutta, hence the English word gout) of wet humours (phlegm and/or blood) into the cavity of a damaged organ. Although it was regarded by many as incurable, there was a demand for treatments, which included a diet designed to rebalance the proportion of humours in the body as a whole, and bloodletting positioned to draw blood away from the gouty organ. Some students of gout theorized that there was a "morbid humour" specific to gout, and, a corresponding specific remedy which God had placed in the plant colchicum, the metal gold, or some other substance. In 1848, a year of revolutions in Europe, such a "morbid humour" was indeed identified as a naturally occurring chemical, uric acid. In another period of rapid change, the 1960s, a corresponding remedy was found when staff at the Burroughs Wellcome laboratories in the USA discovered the medicine allopurinol As Porter and Rousseau point out, Gillray's print The gout (1799) is unique in restricting its focus to the diseased organ. There are dozens of other Georgian and earlier prints of gouty people, but they all show the whole patient in a social context. Gillray's depiction isolates the painful organ from the tragi-comedy of manners surrounding the disease: the face of the sufferer, the furnishings of the room, and the friends offering comfort are all excluded, perhaps representing the ability of the disease to block out everything else from the victim's mind

Lettering

The gout.

Publication/Creation

[London] (27 St. James's Street) : H. Humphrey, 14 May 1799.

Physical description

1 print : soft-ground etching and aquatint, with watercolour ; border 25.6 x 35 cm

Publications note

British Museum, Catalogue of political and personal satires, vol. VII, London 1942, no. 9448
Roy Porter and G.S. Rousseau, Gout: the patrician malady, 1998 (this etching reproduced on the dustjacket)
Yubraj Sharma, Spiritual energetics of homoeopathic materia medica, Wembley: Academy of light, 2006, vol. 2, p. 266

Reference

Wellcome Library no. 10507i

Language

  • English


Identifiers


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