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Smelly Remedy: Womb Fumigation Illustrated in Seventeenth Century Print: an exhibition at the University Library curated by PhD student Lizzie Marx

last modified Mar 07, 2018 12:54 PM

In the seventeenth century, the womb was regarded as a troublesome and unpredictable organ which afflicted women with numerous ailments. To pacify the wild womb, marriage was usually prescribed, but a favoured short-term remedy was fumigation. Like a second nose, the womb was considered to be attracted to pleasant perfumes and repulsed by stench. A womb could therefore be coaxed back to its ‘rightful place’ by wafting fragrant ingredients beneath it. Smelly Remedy shows examples of this procedure from the University Library collection and examines how the remedy was visually represented to a wide readership.

Smelly Remedy is on display now until 31 March in the University Library's Entrance Hall, and is free and open to all.

You can also view the exhibition online at

The exhibition is curated by Lizzie Marx, a PhD student at the Department, who has been awarded the Art History/University Library Curatorial Prize 2018.

Smelly Remedy Poster