BetaThis search tool is in development. Find out more.

Johann Gottfried Matthes (Mathes), a "natural healer", taking the pulse of a patient suffering from the dropsy. Etching, 1784.



Free to use with attribution CC BYCredit: Wellcome Collection
Can I use this?

About this work


The patient, a man, is suffering from dropsy. To the right of him J.G. Matthes is seated, taking the patient's pulse. Behind the patient's chair, his wife shows signs of distress. Right foreground, a medicine bottle and ointment jars on a table "Mathes" is identified in the journal as Johann Gottfried Matthes (b. 1740), a "natural healer" or "quack". According to the journal article, he was a wool-worker resident in Linienstrasse in Berlin, who practised medicine. "Er braucht geheime Kraefte der Natur, und Religionsuebungen ... der Wundermann hat ferner eine Essenz, die er verkauft, und wovon er sagt, dass im ganzen Jahr nur eine Stunde sei, die er betrachten und sich derselben mit dieser Arznei versorgen muesse ... Beim Befuehlen des Pulses, den er die Lebenslinie nennt, murmelt er Verschiedenes, und seufzt, und sagt dann: dass er sich von Gott Beistand und Weisheit erbittet ... das er sich uebrigens seine Wunder bezahlen liess, kann man sich leicht denken ... wie gesagt, nur die Geschichte von zwei seiner Kranken ist hier zur Sprache gekommen ...". One of the two cases, both fatal, was the man with dropsy shown in the present engraving. For undertaking medical treatment of these patients, Matthes was sentenced by the Oberkollegium Medicum on 9 October 1784 to two months in the penitentiary


Der Wunder-Doctor Mathes. Berl: Mon. Schr. 1784. Nov. S. 445


[Dessau], 1784.

Physical description

1 print : etching ; sheet 9.4 x 5.7 cm


Wellcome Library no. 47558i


  • German

Where to find it


License information

License information

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


Johann Gottfried Matthes (Mathes), a "natural healer", taking the pulse of a patient suffering from the dropsy. Etching, 1784. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY

We’re improving the information on this page. Find out more.