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Statue showing a doctor treating a poor person, Europe, 1850-1900

‘The Charity Patient’ plaster statue shows a doctor or a pharmacist attending to a mother, dressed in rags, with a small baby. The doctor examines the baby while grinding up a treatment in a pestle and mortar. Medical treatment was not free, so the poor had to rely on charitable provision or workhouse infirmaries.

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Glossary: statue

A sculpture in the round representing human or animal figures or small figure groups; a statuette is a smaller sculpture.

Glossary: mortar

Cup-shaped vessel in which drugs or herbal mixtures are pounded with a pestle.

Glossary: pestle

An elongated piece of hard material usually made of stone. A pestle is used for grinding pigments, herbs, spices or other materials in a mortar.

Glossary: charity

The noble act of voluntarily giving goods, money or time to those in need.