Title A toothdrawer concealing the key from the patient. Oil painting by Luciano Nezzo.

Access Location Shelfmark Availability
 Online request  On Exhibition  Medicine Man, Wellcome Collection, February 2015 onwards  DUE 05-11-20
Physical description 1 painting : oil on canvas ; canvas 52 x 38.5 cm
Summary The painting shows a surgical operator approaching a young woman in order to extract a tooth. One of the themes of the painting is the contrast between the two figures: he is old, she is young; his clothes are drab and scruffy, hers are colourful and neat; he is dirty and unshaven, she is well-scrubbed. At the centre of the composition, her clean pink hand is juxtaposed to his mottled grey hand, his grimy fingernails to her clear-skinned neck. She is trustingly exposing her person, he is deceptively hiding behind his back the instrument of his imminent assault. The painter Luciano Nezzo (b. 1856) was a professor at the academy of fine arts in Urbino, and one of his paintings is in the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome. He was a contemporary of the composer Giacomo Puccini, some of whose operas are likewise composed of sordid events among working people rather than the high deeds of gods or princes. However, as in Puccini, morals are nothing to do with class: the operator conceals the dental instrument behind his back, not to deceive her but to avoid causing her fright. Concealment of the instrument in order to avoid 'terrifying the patient' is an old surgical practice
Another painting of a dentist concealing the instrument from the patient (in this case a child) was painted by Edward Hughes in 1866 and offered for sale by Sotheby's, London, 19 November 2008, lot 118
Cite as Wellcome Library no. 44610i
Note Exhibited in "Teeth" at Wellcome Collection, 17 May - 16 September 2018
Lettering L. Nezzo
Author, etc. Nezzo, Luciano, 1856-
Topic-LCSH Teeth -- Extraction.
Man-woman relationships.
Genre/Technique Oil paintings.
Copy photo no. L 27409
V 17158
L 14814
System no. .b12024223
Record no. 44610i