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'The Company of Undertakers', print, London, England, 1736

‘The Company of Undertakers’ by William Hogarth (1697-1764) is a comment on the large number of quacks in England during the 1700s. (Quacks sold medical treatments to a public desperate to try anything that claimed to cure illness and disease.) Three unorthodox practitioners who appeared regularly in the news sit above a group of professionally qualified doctors sniffing their pomanders, which are in the top of their walking sticks. From right to left they are: Joshua ‘Spot’ Ward (1684/5–1761), who sold a number of pills which may or may not have worked; Mrs Mapp (baptised 1706-1737), a bone setter who is carrying a symbol of her trade – a bone; and ‘Chevalier’ John Taylor (1702-1790), an ‘oculist’, or eye doctor, carrying an eye on a bone.

Object number:

1980-364

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Glossary:

Glossary: uroscopy

The diagnosis of diseases by visual inspection of urine for blood or pus etc. It dates back to ancient Egypt, India and Babylon. It is considered limited in modern western medical practice, as it can lead to incorrect diagnosis.

Glossary: quack

Pertaining to or characterised by, boasting and pretension; used by quacks; pretending to cure diseases; as, a quack medicine; a quack doctor.

Glossary: pomander

Small containers for fragrant spices or perfumes originally intended to be carried to ward off infections. Perforated and usually globular, apple-shaped, or composed of fitted sections.

Glossary: print

Pictorial works produced by transferring images by means of a matrix such as a plate, block, or screen, using any of various printing processes. When emphasizing the individual printed image, use "impressions." Avoid the controversial expression "original prints," except in reference to discussions of the expression's use. If prints are neither "reproductive prints" nor "popular prints," use just "prints."

Glossary: engraving

A technique to obtain prints from an engraved surface. Engraving is the practice of cutting into a hard, usually flat surface.

Glossary: satire

An artistic form where human actions and errors are mocked.