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The Dropsy Woman by Gerard Dou
La Femme hydropique is a painting by the painter Gérard Dou painted around 1663 and considered a masterpiece by the artist. It is kept in the Louvre museum .
In the chiaroscuro calm of an interior, a doctor examines the urine of his patient in the light of day, perhaps to determine if she is pregnant (the title of the painting, La Femme hydropique, is wrong). The latter awaits the results, comforted by her young daughter and her servant. The satirical representation of doctors and other tooth pullers had a great place in genre painting.
But here it is much less a trivial denunciation of quackery than a moral reflection on the symbolism of water. Water is indeed a source of life and purifier, like God (hence the clearly visible Bible, open on its desk).
The virtuous life which it embodies is opposed to the vanity of fleeing time (represented by the small clock next to the window), and the purity of the soul to the evils of the body. So it is probably necessary to understand the look of the patient as a dash towards the light of the sky, beyond the low materiality of this confined room.
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