Portrayed in his elaborate, magnificently collared lynx-lined coat, Fracastoro has an air of confidence about him, as he well should. His ideas were widely praised in his lifetime, though they later fell into disrepute until German physician Robert Koch and French chemist Louis Pasteur revived his work in the late 19th century.
Despite medical advancements, hygiene was still not a priority for 19th-century Europeans. The subject of Jerry Barrett’s monumental canvas The Mission of Mercy: Florence Nightingale Receiving the Wounded at Scutari (1857) was so appalled by the filthy conditions she found at military hospitals in Crimea that the legendary nurse instigated rigorous sanitary procedures that no doubt saved countless lives. Barret painted Nightingale dressed in a demure grey dress and white cap which, intentionally or not, possesses a halo-like quality, ensuring that she stands out against the vibrant local color.