Everybody seems to be doing this “meme” thing…
Angélique du Coudray (c. 1714–1794) was a pioneering French midwife. In 1759 she published a midwifery textbook, Abrégé de l’art des accouchements. Her introduction notes the fact that incompetence or lack of care can lead to the death of both mother and child, and continues with a politico-religious imperative: “Ignorons-nous que ces deux viâimes étoient chères aux yeux de Dieu, utiles à leur famille, & nécessaires à l’État? C’étoit un dépôt qui nous avoit été confié. Pouvons-nous, en les sacrifiant à un vil intérêt, ne pas trembler sur le compte exact que nous en rendrons un jour à celui qui leur avoit donné l’être?” (“Do we not know that these two lives were dear to the eyes of God, useful to their families, and necessary to the State? They were a deposit which was entrusted to us. Can we, if we sacrifice them to a vile interest, not tremble at the exact account that we shall one day render to Him who gave them to be?”).
To avoid such deaths, du Coudray explains proper prenatal care, and provides instruction on both normal deliveries and a range of common obstetric problems.
Also in 1759, Angélique du Coudray was commissioned by King Louis XV to tour the country training midwives, in the hope of reducing perinatal mortality. She personally trained thousands of midwives, many of whom went on to train others. Her training course was assisted not only by her book, but also by her Machine, a pioneering lifesize obstetric simulator. The Machine included realistic internal structure, such as bones and ligaments, and could be used to practice delivery of a baby in a range of different positions, while giving the trainee midwife a feel for the forces involved.
Having recently seen a wonderful exhibition of paintings by Claude Monet, I’ve been reflecting on some of the dramatic events of his lifetime, especially 1889–1918. Both art and science were going through some radical changes:
- 1889: Eiffel Tower completed
- 1891: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec prints the poster “Moulin Rouge: La Goulue”
- 1892: Pierre-Auguste Renoir paints “Girls at the Piano”
- 1894: Captain Alfred Dreyfus wrongfully convicted of treason
- 1895: Claude Monet exhibits his paintings of Rouen Cathedral, painted 1892–1894
- 1896: Pathé brothers establish a film company
- 1899: Claude Monet paints “Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies”
- 1900: Henri Poincaré publishes early work on relativity; Paris hosts the Exposition Universelle, which highlights both technology and Art Nouveau (the two being combined in the first Paris Métro line)
- 1903: Henri Becquerel shares the Nobel Prize in Physics with Pierre and Marie Curie
- 1904: Enlarged bronze of Rodin’s “The Thinker” completed; Henri Poincaré formulates the Poincaré conjecture
- 1905: Jules Verne dies