Dentistry and Art: A Charlatan Dentist by Jan Miense Molenaer

Jan Miense Molenaer was a Dutch Golden Age genre painter who lived from 1610 to 1668. His paintings depict normal life for the Dutch at that period of time. Not surprisingly, he has more than one work that depicts dentists (or more accurately – individuals claiming to have dental skills).

The following painting does not have a true name, but is often described as a Charlatan dentist:

The Charlatan Dentist painting by the Dutch painter Jan Miense Molenaer

The Charlatan Dentist. Clicking on the image will show a very high resolution reproduction.

The painting shows the “dentist” in a dramatic red hat. He is most likely pulling a tooth with his bare hands and no instruments. The usual onlookers are present. An elderly woman in a black hat – whose sunken in face suggests no remaining teeth – is holding the patient’s arm down.

You can see the typical basket of eggs that is usually paid to the dentist/charlatan for his work. And you can also observe someone stealing an item from the basket being held by the lady in red. This thievery is is seen in many other paintings, such as The Tooth Puller by Gerard Van Honthorst.

When you see a painting like this, just be glad that when you show up for your appointment, your dentist is not wearing a red hat like that guy!