René Laennec's false portrait

This famous and anonymous miniature was donated in 1909 to the Medical School of Paris by its Dean of the time, neurologist Louis Landouzy, and it is preserved in the historical collection of Bibliothèque Interuniversitaire de Médecine (Bium). The romantic portrait was misinterpreted as one of René Laennec despite the opposition of Laennec's main biographer, Alfred Rouxeau. Since then, this portrait was reproduced many times in biographies and publications about the inventor of the stethoscope. It was also the iconographic source for one of the only two Laennec's monuments in Paris. Eventually, in 1966, a new study by A.Finot, published in L'Hôpital et l'Aide Sociale à Paris (No. 42, Novembre 1966, pp. 735-740) demonstrated that the young man portrayed in the picture was French painter Anne-Louis Girodet (1767-1824).

Front of the miniature


Back of the miniature

  • Photos courtesy of Guy Cobolet, Director of the Library (July 2014)


- François Puget, Libres propos: un portrait inédit de Laennec, Histoire des Sciences médicales, 1998, 32 (2), p. 214

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