Visiting the Quack Doctor

Hogarth, William (1697 London 1764). The Visit to the Quack Doctor. Engraving by Carl Heinrich Rahl (Hoffenheim 1779 – Vienna 1843). (1818/23.) Inscribed: 23. / Plate 3. 8¼ × 10½ in (21 × 26.6 cm).

Marriage à la Mode III. – The third plate of this

“ most beautiful painted satire of the century ”

(Dobson in Thieme-Becker).

William Hogarth, Visiting the Quack Doctor (Marriage à la Mode III; Rahl)

“ The poor man got into fine hands! We find him at the Dr. de la Pillule … A girl that was handed over to him as the pure lovely innocence shows in every of her features why, by whom, and what for she took pills; the pill-box in her hand, in that of the count, and between his knees show how many have been taken. One could get afraid at the Dr. Pill-Man as from all realms of nature the figures appear … New pills will have to compensate everything in the end ”

the caption of a German edition says while Lichtenberg concludes his reflections on this plate with the words

“ Beside the poison-cupboard Hogarth has placed, as seems to me, capitally, two mummies. Obviously they see down with proud-disdainful look at all quack doctor bustle and all medicine-jumble of this world from their infinite safety and after their millennial peace with the healing faculty; and that one can do if one is — — a mummy.

“ The overcoat and hat of the doctor thrown onto the floor are evidence of bustling activity, haste to save and large practice ” .

Monsieur de la Pillule, identified by the way as the ill-famed Dr. Misaubin from Hamburg, is not only expert on the field of French illness, but also inventor of two elaborate machines examined and found for good by the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris: for straightening the shoulders and pulling corks. “By ‘uncorking’ it succeeds to put to rights again the reputation of a ‘patient’ within the high life”, meaning to cure again certain results (Catalogue Zurich in departure from the usual interpretations deducing from this the possibility of an abortion by cure by magic formulas).

On the board of the closet in the center of the subject a barber’s basin, urinal as well as numerous other curiosities. Above its open wing, however, a tripod as it was – see Industry & Idleness XI – in use at Tyburn:

“ It is the known tripod of justice — the gallows. This gallows now hovers there like a glory or a coronet above three figures, which represent man and especially the workshop of his thoughts to the three main layers of his bulbous shape, in the bones, in the skin and in the periwig. Unfortunately here the noblest layer, the periwig, is just that of our doctor … The group stands … more than one explanation, yet explained away from under the gallows, our doctor can be by none. ”

Characteristic enough for the bad fate which will catch up with him soon the young count Squanderfield sits right before this group:

“ Behind the young husband his calamitous fate is brewing ghostly ”

(Catalogue Zurich).

At the side of the closet the tooth of a narwhal, above the poison cabinet with its gallipots and drawers the head of a hyena. On the other side look at the laboratory with various retorts. Hanging below the ceiling finally a crocodile – since the woodcut frontispiece to Ferrante Imperato’s Dell’historia naturale libri xxviii of 1599 widely imitated feature of Wunderkammer collections, or Rooms of Wonder (Florence Fearrington) – , which, however, has lost through the years much of its fatness from Hudibras beats Sidrophel.

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William Hogarth, Visiting the Quack Doctor (Marriage à la Mode III; Riepenhausen)

– – – The same in engraving by Ernst Ludwig Riepenhausen (1765 Göttingen 1840, university engraver there). Inscribed: 23. / W Hogarth inv. & pinx. / Riepenhausen del. & sculps. 9¼ × 11¼ in (23.5 × 28.5 cm). – Impression on slightly toned minor paper. – Riepenhausen’s engravings after Hogarth (“very estimable”, Nagler) belong to his chief work and not least for being in the original direction they are partly even preferred to Hogarth’s own engravings.

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further sujets from the set available in various qualities

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(Mrs. B. P., March 24, 2003)