Use our videos, quizzes and enquiries to explore whether change in medical practice was revolutionary or evolutionary during the Age of Revolution.
Today, the stethoscope is a fundamental and indispensable part of a doctor’s kit, often providing the first clues to the nature of a variety of chest complaints. But in the early 1800s, simple diagnostic tools like this had yet to be developed. The invention of the stethoscope by René Laënnec (1781 – 1826) revolutionised the capacity of the physician (doctor) to diagnose chest, heart and lung complaints.
This entry includes graphic illustrations of war injuries which some may find upsetting.
This is a watercolour painting by Charles Bell, a British Army surgeon who helped to treat the wounded after the Battle of Waterloo. His haunting paintings are stark reminders of what early 19th century battle injuries were like. They are rare images executed by a practising surgeon and artist, which was an unusual combination. While his portraits powerfully show the agony and trauma experienced by these young men, they also describe their wounds with anatomical accuracy.