For a Socio-Medical Iconography of Ramazzinis De Morbis: the Manuscript of Giovanni Grevembroch (1731-1807)

Maurizio Rippa Bonati, Fabio Zampieri


Since 2002, a group of historians of medicine in Padua has been working on the creation of a iconographic database related to the professions described by Ramazzini, founder of occupational medicine, in his 1700s De morbis artificum diatriba. A specific example of iconography relevant to De morbis can be found in a 17th century manuscript written and illustrated by Giovanni Grevembroch (1731 1807), Venetian painter probably from a family of Flemish origins. This manuscript describes typical Venetian dress and costumes, accompanied by commentaries made by the artist himself. Here we can find costumes related to some of the very same professions described by Ramazzini and a comparative analysis reveals interesting elements. First of all, in his commentary Grevembroch frequently invokes concepts very similar to those of Ramazzini, related both to the dangers of the environment characteristic of a given profession and to the illnesses typical to each profession. Moreover, analysis of Grevenbrochs images and text often provides supplemental insights into to the context of and risks associated with selected occupations. Finally, the Grevembroch manuscript also supplies supplemental material pertinent to the social and cultural life of the epoch that, even if not strictly linked to questions of occupational medicine. 


Key words: De morbis artificum Diatriba Iconography Giovanni Grevembroch

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