- Reference number
- Teniers, David (Flemish)
- A Surgical Operation
- 33 cm x 25 cm
- Género y sociedad
- On display
- Colección Real (Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid pinturas recogidas de las Casas Arzobispales, 1747, nº 111; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, paso de tribuna y trascuartos, 1772, nº 111; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, retrete [1º], 1794, nº 111; Palacio Real, Madrid, retrete a la inglesa, 1814-1818, s.n.).
A healer or rural doctor treats a peasant's foot with rustic tools. Behind them, a worried woman looks on, while a servant enters with food.
The composition is derived from works on the same subject by Tenier's teacher, Adriaen Brower. The presence of an owl, symbolizing wisdom, may be an illusion to a critical interpretation of what is depicted here. This painting would thus be linked to the tradition of Flemish painting in which surgical operations are frequently ridiculed.
This work is paired with The Alchemist (P1804) and both offer Tenier's particular critical view of science. There are various works by this painter on the same subject. The present version was already at Madrid's Alcázar Palace by 1700.