Gerard Thomas (Antwerp, 1663-1720) – The Pregnancy Test, Flemish Baroque

Gerard Thomas is a Flemish painter of late Baroque. He was born in Antwerp in 1663 and began his early apprenticeship with Godfried Maes in 1680. He was elected a member of the Guild of St. Luke in 1688, where he was originally to continue in the tradition of David Rijckaert III, painting scenes of genre inside and of which he will be dean from 1695 to 1707. He also studies as an alchemist, and this interest will inspire him to realize some of his most remarkable works.

Influenced by Adrien Brouwer (1605-1638), David Ryckart (1612-1661) and David Tenier the Younger (1610-1690), Thomas painted interior scenes, taverns, alchemists’ laboratories, healer studios and charlatans but also painting and sculpture workshops. While his predecessors prefer more or less close-up shots, in order to favor figures rather than environments, Thomas removes the point of view by attaching great importance to the environment and especially to the objects it contains, very numerous, paintings of a great wealth of details, from the inevitable precious globe, almost his signature, to the common broom, enamelled terracotta vases with glass ampoules, stills with old volumes bound in parchment, through utensils and the most varied containers for everyday use. The effects of light on different materials have been studied, glass, copper, silver, tin …

His subjects were often misinterpreted, simplified by the reductive name of “charlatan” or “alchemist”. In reality, his paintings often use real clinics in which the doctor, with the apprentices and helpers, practiced his profession, portrayed with great realism and precision.
It is no coincidence that some of his paintings are part of the collection of Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936), tycoon of the British pharmaceutical industry and founder of the Wellcome Foundation, passionate collector of objects related to the sciences of medicine, as well as art and healing. over the centuries.

Our painting belongs precisely to the medical trend. Many things lead us to think that this is actually a pregnancy test: in the center of the scene, we see a doctor, anxious to observe in transparency the liquid contained in a glass bulb. Beside him, a woman, accompanied by her daughter, looks forward to the answer.

The similarities with other works of the artist, the presence of the globe and the dog that is repeated, allowed us to attribute the painting to Thomas.

The painting was cleaned at Taddei Davoli laboratory in Reggio Emilia.
He is accompanied by the expertise of Professor Massimo Pirondini of Reggio Emilia.
Fate of the collection with a seventeenth century Italian frame in blackened and gilded wood.


Canvas cm 65 x 48.5
Frame cm 76.5 x 61


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