Medicine and Art
Alan Emery, Marcia Emery
Royal Society of Medicine Press: London, UK, 2003, 111pp; illustrated
ISBN: 1-85315-501-2; Price £40.00 (hbk)
The fascination of medical topics and illness for artists through the ages mirrors the fascination of the general population. In Medicine and Art, Professor Emery and his wife have collected a series of illustrations portraying medicine and medical practice from antiquity; from an Egyptian statue and a Greek amphora to a collage of the twenty-first century. Each painting or drawing is accompanied by a brief but comprehensive description of medicine and medical practice during the period at the time of the creation of the artwork and a brief outline of the artist and his career. In many instances, the artists are either accredited masters themselves or pupils of artists who had a significant influence on the development of art through the ages.
For instance, Pietro Lorenzetti (active 1320-1348 - St Humility Healing a Sick Nun (circa. 1341)) was a Sienese painter who was directly influenced by Giotto (1266-1337). The Dutch genre painter Gerrit Dou (1613-1764 - The Quack Doctor (1650) and The Physician (1653)) had a linear style that contrasts with the painterly style of his teacher Rembrandt. The subtle humour of both William Hogarth (1697-1764 - Marriage a la mode: the Inspection (1743)) and Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827 - The Consultation or Last Hope (1808)) is well demonstrated in the chosen pictures. In the latter, the problems of gross obesity are graphically illustrated! The paintings of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890 - The Hospital at Aries (1890)), Edvard Munch (1863-1944 - Death in the Sick Room (1893)), Stephen Conroy (1964 - Healing of a Lunatic Boy (1986)) and Sergi Chepik (1953 - The Madhouse (1987)) portray an aspect of psychiatry, both personal and environmental. The painting by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973 - Science and Charity (1897)) is from a period of his career with which many of us are unfamiliar and demonstrates his immense early talent. Other paintings by Henry Tonks, Stanley Spencer, Andrew Wyeth and L. S. Lowry all contribute to a fascinating collection of art related to the medical world, which provide a source of stimulus to the enquiring reader.
N. M. Breach