Louis Pasteur and his rabies patients. Wood engraving after Paul Renouard, 1886.

  • Renouard, Paul, 1845-1924.
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Louis Pasteur and his rabies patients. Wood engraving after Paul Renouard, 1886. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). Source: Wellcome Collection.

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"M. Pasteur and his patients. Some months ago, soon after M. Pasteur had begun to inoculate human subjects as a preventative of hydrophobia, we illustrated and described the eminent scientist at work in his laboratory. Since that time several hundred persons who had been bitten by rabid animals have come from all parts of Europe. and even from the United States, in order to place themselves under M. Pasteur's treatment. One party of patients have attracted especial attention -- fifteen Russian peasants who had been sent by their Government. These unfortunate moujiks had been terribly bitten on February 28th by a tame wolf, who had suddenly gone mad. They were all natives of the village of Beloi, in the province of Smolensk, and after a very short delay were sent to Paris under the charge of an Odessa medical man, Dr. N. Gamaleia. Their wounds were of the most terrible nature. The first man who was bitten had a protracted struggle with the animal, which he vainly endeavoured to kill, while the most fortunate, although successful in throwing off the wolf by a violent effort, did not escape the teeth of the animal. This poor fellow states that when he and his companions went to the adjoining town to beg for medical relief, they were at once incarcerated in an isolated house, and placed in a darkened room. "We rebelled at this," he declared, "and broke open the shutters of our room so as to obtain light, for after all we were not criminals. A wolf had bitten us, it is true, but we were honest folks." We engrave portraits of nine of these peasants, amongst whom was one woman. On their arrival on March l4th at M. Pasteur's studio their wounds were found to be of a most fearful nature, the flesh being literally torn off the body in some places. One man's hand was nearly separated from the wrist, another had a terrible gash over the eye. Others were bitten through the thighs, hips, legs, and arms, while the woman was lacerated above the knee. They were described by a correspondent of a contemporary as a rough, shaggy, long-haired group,and, before they underwent the process of inoculation with the rabid virus, their bandages had to be removed, and their wounds dressed. Five (amongst whom was a-priest with his lip almost bitten off) were at once removed to the Hôtel Dieu, where one of them, a peasant named Yakulev, died a week later, presumably of rabies. Another group in our illustration represents six English children from Bradford, Yorkshire, where they were all bitten by the same mad dog on the 24th of January, together with three men, two of whom have also been treated by M. Pasteur. It was the death of the third man from hydrophobia which aroused sympathy for the remainder, and a public fund was accordingly raised to send them to Paris, under the charge of Dr. Hime, the Medical Officer of Health, who kindly undertook the mission at a moment's notice. The ages of the children vary from six to sixteen years, and four of them are quite little fellows. The little girl, Martha Wright, has been a general favourite, her gentle manners having won her many friends. Dr. Hime was untiring in his attention to his helpless family, and, moreover, seemed to have the gift of tongues, as he was always welcomed with a smile by the polyglot crowd outside M. Pasteur's room, and his kindly words of encouragement in French, German, and Italian were greatly appreciated by the poor patients. They left on March 23rd, apparently in capital health, and laden with toys which had been given to them by their sympathisers. The young lady with whom M. Pasteur is talking in our illustration is one of an English family of four, who had all more or less been bitten by a Newfoundland dog, and who had consequently thought it wise to undergo M. Pasteur's treatment. Of M. Pasteur's method of inoculation we spoke fully in our previous article ; we need do no more than mention that the virus, which is procured from rabbits, and at first is comparatively weak, is increased in strength until the treatment is at an end. At present M. Pasteur has only lost two patients, one being the Russian mentioned above, whose wounds in themselves were almost sufficient to bring about a fatal result, while the other was taken in hand too late."—The graphic, loc. cit.


[London] : [The Graphic], [1886]

Physical description

1 print : wood engraving


M. Pasteur's experiments in Paris for the cure of hydrophobia - the doctor and some of his patients. ... English children from Bradford, Yorkshire - all bitten by the same mad dog, January 24th Lettering continues: "Russian peasants bitten by a mad wolf at Beloi, Smolensk, February 28th. Monsieur Pasteur examining a young English girl, one of a family of four, bitten by a mad Newfoundland dog. English children from Bradford, Yorkshire - all bitten by the same mad dog, January 24th." Each of the portraits of the figures has a name and age accompanying it

References note

Michael Worboys, 'Research and medical practice in the late 19th century: Thomas Whiteside Hime', Wellcome history, 2005, no. 28, pp. 13-14


Wellcome Collection 17886i

Creator/production credits

A state exists with Paul Renouard's signature under the portrait of Katherine Meates (the girl in converstion with Pasteur). It may indicate that Renouard drew the entire work, or only the scene with Pasteur


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