• Village Charlatan (The Operation for Stone in the Head)

    Artist:
    Brouwer, Adriaen. 1605/06-1638
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    28,2x25 cm

Brouwer, Adriaen. 1605/06-1638

Village Charlatan (The Operation for Stone in the Head)

Flanders, 1620s

The State Hermitage has two paintings by the famous Flemish painter Adriaen Brouwer. This early work, created in the 1620s, seems at first sight to be another typical Netherlandish depiction of a man being treated by a fairground quack medicine man. In reality, though, the subject is more complex. The iconography of the painting derives from works by sixteenth-century Netherlandish artists on the theme of "extracting the stone of stupidity". While Bosch and Breughel depicted a semblance of a real operation in their works on the subject, Brouwer's is more of a fiction. The "doctor" has only cut the "patient's" eyebrow, while at the same time bringing out the blood-stained stone concealed in his fingers to show to the onlookers. In the Hermitage painting, two such shiny stones, supposedly extracted by the charlatan from the heads of patients, lie on the ground close to his feet. Two men have already been operated on and are shown behind the quack. One, with a bandaged forehead, is sitting on the ground; the other is standing with his back to us, his arms raised asking for a drink. A man leaning out of the window of the tavern is pouring wine over him. A third patient is being firmly held by an old woman as the charlatan operates on him. Brouwer created his own distinctive work on the theme of "extracting the stone of stupidity", conveying a quite specific message: human stupidity cannot be cured by surgery.

Title:

Village Charlatan (The Operation for Stone in the Head)

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

28,2x25 cm

Acquisition date:

Transferred in 1925 to the Hermitage from the Gatchina Palace

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-668

Category:

Collection:

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