Galleria Borghese logo
Search results for
No results :(

Hints for your search:

  • Search engine results update instantly as soon as you change your search key.
  • If you have entered more than one word, try to simplify the search by writing only one, later you can add other words to filter the results.
  • Omit words with less than 3 characters, as well as common words like "the", "of", "from", as they will not be included in the search.
  • You don't need to enter accents or capitalization.
  • The search for words, even if partially written, will also include the different variants existing in the database.
  • If your search yields no results, try typing just the first few characters of a word to see if it exists in the database.

A Surgical Operation

Lundens Gerrit

(Amsterdam c. 1622 - after 1683)

Like many other works by Flemish artists in the Borghese Collection, this panel was purchased by Marcantonio IV Borghese in 1783. Signed and dated, the painting is by the Dutch artist Gerrit Lundens, who specialised in the production of genre scenes and was above all known for his portraits and his copy of Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

This composition depicts an anatomy lesson: a surgeon medicates the shoulder of a poor patient who looks directly at the spectator with a grisly expression of pain.

Object details

oil on panel
cm 37 x 31

19th-century frame, 49 x 42 x 5.5 cm


Rome, purchased by Marcantonio IV Borghese through Antonio Asprucci and Gavin Hamilton, 1783 (Della Pergola 1959); Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese 1833, p. 38. Purchased by Italian state, 1902.


Dated and signed "G. LUNDENS. F. 1648 +".

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1906 Luigi Bartolucci (pest control)
  • 1936 Augusto Cecconi Principi


A notice of payment dated 7 July 1783 describes a painting depicting ‘a surgeon medicating the shoulder of a peasant’. The receipt was drafted by Antonio Asprucci for the painter Gavin Hamilton, who had been entrusted by Prince Marcantonio IV Borghese to purchase the work in question together with another painting – perhaps its pendant – representing a ‘school with a number of boys and a deaf headmaster’. The pair of works were acquired for 120 scudi (see Della Pergola 1959).

The work first received a specific attribution in 1870 (see by contrast Inv. Fid. 1833; Piancastelli 1891), when Xavier Barbier de Montault ascribed it to Adrien Brouwer. While Giovanni Morelli (1892) agreed with this name, it was rightly rejected by Adolfo Venturi (1893), who noticed the painter’s signature and the date of execution, details which previous inventory compilers and critics had missed. Venturi confirmed the attribution to Lundens by pointing to similarities with two other paintings by him, one held at the Landesmuseum in Hannover and the other at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf: both works are characterised by applications of layers of glaze and by ‘a mysterious use of colour, in accordance with the manner of Rembrandt’ (Venturi 1893).

Executed in 1648, this panel is a perfect example of the oeuvre of the Dutch artist, who specialised in genre scenes and portraits. Specifically, the subject and figures of this painting are quite close to those of other of his compositions, including the work held in Göttingen (Kunstsammlung der Universität), in which the squinting right eye of the unfortunate patient communicates the same feeling of pain.


Antonio Iommelli