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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/528

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514
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

STONES IN THE HEAD.
By Dr. A. CARTAZ.

IN all times painters have been fond of reproducing scenes of medical life, but the tendency has never been more marked than it was in the middle ages. Taking to the very life the oddest-seeming subjects, they have presented with the hands of masters the realistic pictures of the most various nervous troubles and pathological afflictions. On celebrated canvases may be seen, in attitudes of the most scrupulous exactness, the likenesses of great nervous affections like hysteria, malformations, clubfoot, and rickets. The great book of Charcot and Richer, Les démoniaques et les malades dans l'art (Demoniacs and Invalids in Art), has brought out into the light the large number of ancient works in which scenes of that kind are to be found. Yet they deal with only one special point in pathology.

A gentleman whose artistic erudition is equal to his medical knowledge. Dr. Henry Meige, has in his turn been gleaning in a rich field for observations, and has given us, in a series of remarkable studies in the New Iconography of the Salpêtrière, a sagacious and interesting critical estimate of the "painters of medicine." A recent memoir of his concerns pictures illustrating operations on the head.

We find these scenes of medical life most frequently reproduced, whether in a realistic or a satirical fashion, in the Flemish and Dutch schools. There are pictures giving a vivid image of a woman dying of hydropsy of the heart, as in Gerard Dow's celebrated canvas in the Louvre; of a young victim of anæmia, as in "The Patient" of Van Hoogstraaten, at Amsterdam; of a hysterical sufferer, as in "The Possessed" of Rubens, etc. But these pictures are most frequently figures of charlatans and really caricatures; subjects were abundant, for in that day, as in our own time, quacks and tooth-pullers were not idle. As in our fairs and parades, street operators and doctors and quacks of all sorts made display of their knowledge in public, and their address was not lacking in wit or warmth. Such scenes as these the Flemish painters strove especially to represent, castigating the quacks with their satirical pencils.

The pictures which we present to our readers repeat scenes from the operations for stone in the head. It may be asked. What was the operation which the painter intended to ridicule? There exist on the hairy part of the skin no such calculous products as are found in the canals of some of the glands or in some of the reservoirs of the organism, like the biliary vesicle or the bladder. We only know as tumors that might lend themselves