Mastectomy. Drawing attributed to a Dutch artist, 17th century.
- [between 1600 and 1699]
Selected images from this work
About this work
The operator excises the breast with the "tenaculum helvetianum", presumably to remove breast cancer. His assistant has a case of lancets etc. attached to his belt. A set of cautery irons is smouldering on a stand on the left. The patient is seated, held by two men: she appears to be fainting. On the right, a man in a tall hat points towards her: he is possibly meant to be a physician
The instrument used by the operator is the "tenaculum helvetianum" (tenette helvétienne), as described by Jean-Adrien Helvetius in Traité des pertes de sang .. accompagné de sa lettre sur la nature et guérison du cancer, Paris 1697, pp. 153-155 and folding plate f.p. 153; L. Heister, Institutiones chirurgicae, Amsterdam 1739, vol. 2, pp. 740-741 and tab. XXIII fig. 1. A similar instrument is used by Saint Agatha's torturer in an earlier (ca. 1600?) engraving by Philips Galle