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Painting Title Sick Lady
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist Attributed to Dutch School
Date Earliest possibly about 1650
Date Latest Possibly about 1880
Description A female patient, pale and weak, is depicted sitting on the chair; another woman, possibly her maid, stands in the background. A doctor standing to the right is looking at a liquid in the bottle - probably examining the woman's urine. The theme of a doctor visiting a sick lady was very popular in 17th century Dutch painting; it was painted in various versions for example by Jan Steen in the 1660s. It is usually understood as the depiction of either unexpected pregnancy or so called lovesickness. The latter was supposed to attack mainly young women (it was called the 'disease of virgins') and the symptoms were fatigue, palpitations on minor exertion, a weak pulse, and mood changes; it was believed to be curable by coition. Either interpretation of the cause of the sickness of the depicted lady points to the sexual aspects of the theme.
Current Accession Number YORAG : 228
Subject interior; figure; everyday life
Measurements 39.4 x 31.8 cm
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by W.J. Rawdon 1895.
Principal Exhibitions Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Institution, Summer Exhibition, York, 1896, no.136 as by 'Van Cowen'; Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Institution, Summer Exhibition, York, 1900, no. 137 as by 'Van Gowen'.
Publications York Art Gallery Catalogue - Catalogue of Paintings, Vol. III: English and European 19th and 20th centuries, The Reserve Collection, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1974, p. 118 as Dutch 17th century patternl; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 264.
Notes It is very difficult to decide whether the painting was indeed created in the 17th century or if it just follows the 17th century pattern. It seems also impossible to identify the 'Van Gowen' to whom the painting was attributed to in the 19th century; it does not match any known artist. The only possible match to this name seems to be Van Goyen (as he is spelled 'Van Gowen' in The Lives of the Most Eminent Modern Painters... by James Burgess, London 1754), but Jan van Goyen is surely not the author of this painting.
Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka



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