Museum treasures

'Indigestion': 19th century punishment for a deadly sin

Gluttony, considered one of the seven deadly sins, was punishable by indigestion.

'Indigestion' caricature published 1825

Source: Museum of the SalvaDore

This 19th century caricature personifies the experience of indigestion

The over-consumption of food and alcohol were popular subjects for caricaturists in the early 1800s.

In ‘Indigestion’, published 12 December 1825, an unshaven man, wearing a nightgown and slippers, sits facing the viewer in a bedroom. Obviously in discomfort, he holds his stomach with his hand, while being tormented by demons. The blue devil and other imaginary figures persecuting the subject were a device used by artists, notably George Cruikshank,  to highlight the patient’s condition.

‘Indigestion’ contains numerous references to over-indulgence during the festive period. Two tiny servants bring the patient more plates of food, while underneath the side table two watchmen arrest a drunk. Dinner invitations lay scattered the patient’s feet. On the side table is a plum pudding decorated with a sprig of holly. One demon tempts the patient with another slice of the pudding on a fork, while another pulls on a lever against his chest to ratchet up his heartburn and indigestion. Even the full moon seen through window disturbingly resembles a plum pudding.

Citation: The Salvadore DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20204075

Readers' comments (1)

  • While I agree gluttony and overeating is a man’s enemy, not only as to indigestion but to every other health issue( overfed rats fare worse than those given less than average food quantity), and while fasting heals, I do not see the man in the painting holding his stomach but his right lower chest. This nevertheless is an indication of perhaps referred pain from dyspepsia.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

  • Principles of Good Clinical Practice

    A one-stop source for the proper conduct of clinical trials. Essential information on clinical trial design and pharmacovigilance.


Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete

Supplementary images

  • 'Indigestion' caricature published 1825

Jobs you might like

  • London (Greater)

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.


kamagra 100mg инструкция