Magazine article USA TODAY

Exhibition Explores Images of Quacks and Quackery

Magazine article USA TODAY

Exhibition Explores Images of Quacks and Quackery

Article excerpt

A lively exhibition tracing the history of the colorful purveyors of patent and quack medicines over the past four centuries, "Quack, Quack, Quack: The Sellers of Nostrums in Prints, Posters, Ephemera & Books" contains 75 works ranging from humorous caricatures of itinerant quacks, flamboyant advertising posters, and promotional pamphlets for rival panaceas (each supported by extravagant claims of efficacy), to prints that document the first governmental attempts to curtail the more flagrant abuses.

"The quack has long been a popular and profitable subject for artists in Europe and the United States," notes John Ittmann, Curator of Prints at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. "This exhibition delves into the relationship between the bearers of this disparaging term and the artists who captured their theatrics and even helped advertise their wares. And though legislation has been enacted to eradicate the practice of quackery, the proliferation of Internet spam and advertisements of that ilk make this a rather timely exhibition."

"Quacks" includes works by such well-known artists as Jacques Callot, William Hogarth, Honore Daumier, Maxfield Parrish, and Jules Cheret, as well as some highly spirited pieces created by less familiar figures. …

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