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This painting depicts a barber-surgeon removing a plaster from a patient's foot while his female assistant heats a replacement bandage over hot coals. The presence of a crystal ball, suspended at the top of the painting, makes the moral message of this painting, quite literally, crystal clear. It symbolizes the empty vanity of man, with the surgeon an incompetent charlatan and the patient a gullible fool.
oil on panel
36.8 x 27.3 cm
Archibald McLellan Collection, purchased, 1856