Bard And Birth

The Saltonstall Family c.1636-7 by David Des Granges 1611 or 13-?1675When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools. (– William Shakespeare)

Obstetrical instruments and demonstration of them being used. 1751 From: Suite des Observations sur les causes et les accidens de plusieurs accouchemens laborieux / By: A. Levret Published: Delaguette,Paris : 1751.

Obstetrical instruments and demonstration of them being used. 1751. From: Suite des Observations sur les causes et les accidens de plusieurs accouchemens laborieux. By: A. Levret. Published: Delaguette,Paris, 1751.

If thou that bid’st me be content wert grim,
Ugly, and sland’rous to thy mother’s womb…(– William Shakespeare)
L0013528 A new born child stepping out of a broken eggBut thou art fair, and at thy birth, dear boy,

Nature and Fortune join’d to make thee great… (– William Shakespeare)

Gravida from a miniature painted about 1400.

Gravida from a miniature painted about 1400.

Obstetrical instrument set, United Kingdom, 1871-1900 Tools in this obstetrical surgical instrument set include three sets of forceps for gripping the baby’s head and a vectis. A vectis was a levering instrument used to ease the head out. There are also destructive tools for removing a dead and obstructed foetus. A perforator pierced the child’s skull; two hooked instruments called crochets were inserted into the mother’s birth canal and hooked onto part of the child; and a pair of craniotomy forceps was a heavy toothed or ridged crushing instrument for breaking up the skull bones of a foetus. Devices and tools were used for different applications depending on the circumstance. An obstetric physician, or male midwife, was not normally present in routine births in the 1800s.

Obstetrical instrument set, United Kingdom, 1871-1900
Tools in this obstetrical surgical instrument set include three sets of forceps for gripping the baby’s head and a vectis. A vectis was a levering instrument used to ease the head out. There are also destructive tools for removing a dead and obstructed foetus. A perforator pierced the child’s skull; two hooked instruments called crochets were inserted into the mother’s birth canal and hooked onto part of the child; and a pair of craniotomy forceps was a heavy toothed or ridged crushing instrument for breaking up the skull bones of a foetus. Devices and tools were used for different applications depending on the circumstance. An obstetric physician, or male midwife, was not normally present in routine births in the 1800s.

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Louise Bourgeois's "Hebammen Buch,.." Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

Louise Bourgeois’s “Hebammen Buch…” Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

His greatness weigh’d, his will is not his own;
For he himself is subject to his birth. (– William Shakespeare)

The first and second row of plate 1, drawn by Christian Koeck and engraved by the Klauber brothers, from Samuel Thomas Soemmerring, Icones embryonum humanorum, Frankfurt am Main Varrentrapp and Wenner, 1799

The first and second row of plate 1, drawn by Christian Koeck and engraved by the Klauber brothers, from Samuel Thomas Soemmerring, Icones embryonum humanorum, Frankfurt am Main Varrentrapp and Wenner, 1799

The first and second row of plate 1, drawn by Christian Koeck and engraved by the Klauber brothers, from Samuel Thomas Soemmerring, Icones embryonum humanorum, Frankfurt am Main Varrentrapp and Wenner, 1799 2

…For beauty, wit,
High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service,
Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all
To envious and calumniating Time. (– William Shakespeare)

Jacques Fabien Gautier D’Agoty

Mezzotint is a print made from an engraved copper or steel plate on which the surface has been partially roughened, for shading, and partially scraped smooth, giving light areas. The technique was much used in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries for the reproduction of paintings.

A pregnant woman calmly looks back at the viewer, a characteristic pose of 18th-century French portraiture. It is a work of Jacques Fabien Gautier D’Agoty (1717-1785), an 18th century French artist. Best known for his colored painterly quality mezzotints of anatomical figures, Gautier d’Agoty created images that were somewhat controversial for his era, and remain important as anatomical studies in 18th century art history.

Shakespeare quote? Perhaps, this one will do:

It ascends me into the brain; dries me there all
the foolish and dull and crudy vapours which environ it; makes it apprehensive, quick, forgetive, full of nimble, fiery, and
delectable shapes; which delivered o’er to the voice, the tongue,
which is the birth, becomes excellent wit. (– William Shakespeare)

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