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This is one of a pair of paintings (see CWLF 127, 406900) depicting a collector surrounded by his possessions and an physician in his laboratory. Both works consciously perpetuate the tradition of David Teniers, who specialised in alchemists and collector

Objects and paintings illustrating the changing perception and use of medicine

Gerard Thomas (Antwerp 1663 - Antwerp 1720)

A Physician in his Study c.1680-1720

RCIN 406901

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The physician shown in this painting is studying a copy of the physician, surgeon and philosopher Galen’s work, while in the background a man receives surgery on his foot. Galen’s medical theories were influential throughout the Middle Ages and into the seventeenth century. Many of Galen’s discoveries resulted from his practice of dissection. One of his most important findings was the fact that arteries carry blood, not air. Galen’s theory was founded on the widely held belief in the body being made up of four main ‘humours’. The exploration and ultimate rejection of the theory of humours during the Renaissance was an important step towards the founding of modern medicine.