“The Sick Woman”, painted by Dutch master Jan Steen has a lot to tell us about how doctors used to diagnose patients. An etching by Jan van der Bruggen “The Dentist”, gives us clues about 17th century style and oral hygiene. And a 400-year-old disruptive technology takes the spotlight in a piece on innovator Antoni van Leeuwenhoek.
Presenting these art pieces in the context of healthcare not only gives a glimpse into how people lived in the past but also puts the development of medicine and technology into perspective. For instance, who would have thought that dentists might have been also barbers, or that some doctors used to diagnose their patient’s illness by getting them to sniff fumes.