- Inventory number
- Teniers, David
- A Surgical Operation
- 1631 - 1640
- 33 cm x 25 cm
- Genre and Society
- On display
- Royal Collection (Royal Palace of El Buen Retiro, Madrid, “pinturas recogidas de las Casas Arzobispales”, 1747, n. 111; New Royal Palace, Madrid, “paso de tribuna y trascuartos”, 1772, n. 111; New Royal Palace, Madrid, “retrete [1º]”, 1794, n. 111; Royal Palace, 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 Teniers' 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 (P01804) and both offer Teniers' 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.