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Itinerant medicine vendors in Rome. Oil painting attributed to Dirk Helmbreker.

  • Helmbreker, Dirk, 1633-1696.
Reference:
45032i
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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
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Credit: Itinerant medicine vendors in Rome. Oil painting attributed to Dirk Helmbreker.Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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About this work

Description

In the 16th-18th centuries, medicines were sold in Europe not only by apothecaries in their pharmacies but also by travelling theatre groups who made the selling of medicines into the climax of an elaborate comic performance. In this scene, the man in a red coat on the right of the stage is the leader of the group: he holds up a patent for a particular medicine, granted by the Medici rulers of Tuscany. To the left of him, the man with the big black hat is playing the part of an academic doctor who pedantically objects to the claims of the medicine vendor. His dog-Latin is ridiculed by the zany or Harlequin-character next to him. The dome of St Peter's in the left background sets the scene in Rome.

Physical description

1 painting : oil on canvas ; canvas 60 x 74 cm

References note

David Gentilcore, Medical charlatanism in early modern Italy, Oxford 2006, pp. 26-27 (reproduced)

Reference

Wellcome Library no. 45032i

Reproduction note

Another version was offered for sale at Christie's, South Kensington, 2 July 1997, lot 193 (canvas 58 x 68 cm.)


Where to find it

  • Location Access
    On Exhibition
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