The Wellcome Library contains many pictures by amateur, naive and popular artists. Such works often preserve themes that are rarely or never depicted in the elite works of art that are found in art galleries. This is one example: it is one of a pair of French pictures that Henry S. Wellcome acquired in Pau, French Pyrenees. They are thought to date from around 1700. In this one, an apothecary gives a clyster (enema) to a woman who bends over a bed: he injects water or a medication into her rectum to clean her intestines, a process later called colonic lavage. Above, two monkeys imitate the behaviour of the humans. A third monkey sits on the balcony over the bed holding the bonnet of another woman, which it has snatched off her head. The background shows details of interior decoration: a tapestry with a border of roses contains a rural scene, and the door is surmounted by a painting of a landscape. The companion picture (44595i) shows the interior of a pharmacy, with some of the same people as the present picture.
Where to see this painting?
Not all paintings are on display. If you want to see a particular painting, please contact the collection