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The four elements, four qualities, four humours, four seasons, and four ages of man. Airbrush by Lois Hague, 1991.

Hague, Lois.
Date
[1991]

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Free to use with attribution CC BYCredit: Wellcome Collection
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Description

The human figure in the centre is derived from the tarot The diagram shows the four elements as defined by ancient Greek philosophers (air, water, earth, fire) and the four qualities which they combine: air combines the hot and the wet, water the cold and the wet, earth the cold and the dry, fire the hot and the dry. These are then used to define the four humours (humors): blood has the qualities of fire, making people sanguine (cheerful); phlegm the qualities of water, making people phlegmatic; black bile the qualities of earth, making people melancholic; and yellow bile the qualities of fire, making people choleric (hot tempered). Each temperament is boosted by the associated season or age of life, or diminished by the opposite season or age of life. This system was the basis of traditional western medicine. Thus, someone with too much of the hot and wet will have too much blood, and may need bloodletting, especialy in spring, less so in winter when the cold and wet in the environment counteracts the hot and dry in the body, and even less in old age, which has more of the same qualities as winter

Publication/Creation

[London], [1991]

Physical description

1 painting : airbrush on artist's board with acetate overlays ; 35.8 x 48.1 cm

Lettering

Air water earth fire. Hot cold. Wet dry. Blood phlegm black bile yellow bile. Spring summer autumn winter. Childhood manhood old age decrepitude.

Language

  • English


Identifiers


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 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

Credit

The four elements, four qualities, four humours, four seasons, and four ages of man. Airbrush by Lois Hague, 1991. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY


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