Le Pharmacie rustique [The Rural Pharmacy (Michel Schuppach, Uroscopist)], after Gottfried Locher
37 cm x 38.9 cm (14 9/16 in. x 15 5/16 in.)
(1727 - 1795)
Medium and Support:
Etching and engraving
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Karen G. and Dr. Elgin W. Ware, Jr. Collection, 1999
In the late eighteenth century, apothecaries had the legal right to attend and prescribe for the sick as long as they charged only for the drugs dispensed. Physical examination rarely occurred except uroscopy, the examination of urine, a method based on the humors. Uroscopy was a common method for diagnosing illness. The color of the urine, as well as the cloudiness, precipitates, and particles in the urine, was believed to indicate the cause of the disorder. It is one of the oldest forms of diagnostic testing, extending back to the days of Hippocrates. It was a necessary procedure because direct examination of a patient, or at least disrobing the patient, was socially unacceptable. Perhaps it is for this reason that while apothecaries still carried an aura of trade, the profession was nonetheless considered a genteel business and was quite popular.
Michel Schuppach, a famed uroscopist, is celebrated in this print. He is portrayed at work in his pharmacy, examining a vial of the young lady’s urine, while others wait their turn. The well-mannered clientele in their fine costume offer visual testimony to the widespread reputation of the distinguished uroscopist.