Dentistry and Art: Sans Douleur by Engelman after Roehn

This lithograph was produced by the French artist Gottfried Engelman (born 1788 died 1839). Some websites and textbooks put his first name as Godefroy. While he initially studied painting and drawing, he began studying lithography on/around 1814. This lithograph was based on a work by the French artist Adolphe Roehn (born 1780 died 1867). This work is believed to have been produced sometime in the 1820s.

Sans Doleur tooth extraction and dentist lithograph by Engelman after Roehn

The title – Sans Douleur – means “without pain.” However, at this time, given that local anesthesia was not invented until the 1860s, there was no way a tooth extraction could be done without pain.

In this lithograph, a French dentist/charlatan displays quite proudly the tooth he has just extracted from the young man to his left. There is the usual group of onlookers typical for these scenes. Behind the charlatan/dentist, a trained monkey mimics him. Would you go to a dentist who has a monkey in his/her office?

This is another reminder of how much dentistry has changed in the past 200 years.