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Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian Dressing a Chest Wound

Photo credit: Wellcome Collection

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Saints Cosmas and Damian practised medicine and surgery without payment according to their legend, and were therefore represented to the lay public as medical ideals. This painting shows one of the saints using a bullet extractor to remove a foreign body from a man's chest, and the other one assisting with prayer. On the table is a travelling case of surgical instruments with a lid that flips open, and to the right of it a round box partitioned to hold different ointments used in surgery. The artist of this piece was French, studied in Italy and travelled to Turkey, but spent most of his long career in Malta. There he worked for the Knights of Malta (Knights Hospitallers, or Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem), and became a knight of the order himself.

Wellcome Collection

London

Title

Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian Dressing a Chest Wound

Date

1748

Medium

oil on canvas

Measurements

H 85.7 x W 119.5 cm

Accession number

44856i

Acquisition method

purchased by Henry S. Wellcome, c.1900–1936

Work type

Painting

Inscription description

A. Favray 1748

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Wellcome Collection

183 Euston Road, London, Greater London NW1 2BE England

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