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Art and Images in Psychiatry |

Napoleon Bonaparte Visiting the Plague-Stricken at Jaffa

James C. Harris, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006;63(5):482-483. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.63.5.482.
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On March 21, 1799, 29-year-old Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) felt it incumbent to visit his troops who had contracted bubonic plague when they took the fortress at Jaffa, Palestine (modern-day Tel-Aviv, Israel), by storm. His goal was to dispel fear about a disease that had caused panic among his troops.2 René-Nicolas Desgenettes, the chief physician, and his general staff accompanied him. Dr Desgenettes recorded the visit as follows:

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Cover: Baron Antoine-Jean Gros (1771-1835), French. Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) Visiting the Plague Stricken at Jaffa, 11th March 1799, 1804. Oil on canvas, 532 × 720 cm. Musée du Louvre, Paris, France/Bridgeman Art Library.

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Charles-Louis Muller, Pinel Orders the Chains Removed From the Insane at Bicêtre (1849). Oil on canvas. © Bibliothèque de l’Académie Nationale de Médecine, Paris. Transparency obtained was produced from a photograph of the painting taken by J. L. Charmet, Paris

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