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Jan Steen, The Sick Girl, c. 1660

One of Jan Steen’s favourite subjects was the doctor’s visit, or the sick girl. It is a humorous theme that was perfectly suited to Steen’s style.

A languishing young girl is being examined by the doctor. He is being fooled, as the girl is pretending to suffer from a ‘wandering womb’, a condition that was taken very seriously by doctors in those days. The only remedy was for the patient to sleep with her lover. And that is exactly what this girl intends to do.

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