Find thousands of books, manuscripts, visual materials and unpublished archives from our collections, many of them with free online access.

Mesmeric therapy. Oil painting by a French (?) painter, 1778/1784.

  • Desrais, Claude Louis, 1746-1816.
[between 1778 and 1784?]
  • Pictures
  • Online

Available online

view Mesmeric therapy. Oil painting by a French (?) painter, 1778/1784.


Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
You can use this work for any purpose, including commercial uses, without restriction under copyright law. You should also provide attribution to the original work, source and licence.
Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) terms and conditions
Credit: Mesmeric therapy. Oil painting by a French (?) painter, 1778/1784. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Selected images from this work

About this work


Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) introduced a system of therapy ("animal magnetism" or "mesmerism") based on the theory that the body was analogous to a magnet. At first in Vienna (1768-1778) and later in Paris (1778-1784) he turned the theory into practice by constructing a large tub (a "baquet") from which magnetised fluids were dispensed to patients through pipes and ropes applied to diseased parts of the body. In the present painting, the man on the extreme left winds a magnetised rope around his head to cure headache. In the right background, Mesmer touches a friar with a magnetic wand. In the right foreground the woman playing a piano might be the blind musician Maria Theresia von Paradies (Paradis) (1759-1824)


[between 1778 and 1784?]

Physical description

1 painting : oil on canvas ; canvas 60.5 x 76.2 cm

Exhibitions note

Exhibited in "Hypnose" at Musee d'arts de Nantes 16th October 2020 - 12th September 2021

Creator/production credits

Possibly by or after Claude-Louis Desrais (1746-1816), though he does not seem to have usually painted in oils: see:

References note

XVIIth International Congress of Medicine: handbook of the Historical Medical Museum organized by Henry S. Wellcome (the Museum of the Section of the History of Medicine), London, 1913, catalogue no. 140, p. 77
Roy Porter, 'Under the influence: mesmerism in England', History today, September 1985, vol. 35: 22-29 (reproduced p. 22)
Robert E. Greenspan, Medicine: perspectives in history and art, Alexandria, Va.: Ponteverde Press, 2006, p. 522 (reproduced)


Wellcome Library no. 44754i

Where to find it

  • LocationStatusAccess
    Closed stores


Permanent link