Paul Dupuy Museum of Toulouse

The Paul Dupuy Museum of Toulouse is a relatively small museum housed in the ancient residence of the one Pierre de Besson – a member of the Toulouse parliament in the 18th century.
The building was bought in 1905 by the art collector Paul Dupuy who constituted here a “Decorative and Graphic Arts Museum”
The museum includes a remarkable collection of paintings and drawings signed by famous painters like Delacroix, Toulouse-Lautrec, Ingres as well as the most famous artists of the south of France from the 17th and 18th century (Lafage, Troy, Rivlz, Gamelin).
It contains also an outstanding collection of religious treasures (statues, reliquaries, shrines) some dating from as early as the 11th century, a beautiful pottery collection mainly from Toulouse and Martres-Tolosanes, an arms collection and last but not least one of the most prestigious collection of clocks in Europe including French clocks from the 16th century, a clock that never stopped since 1850 and an Arab astrolabe dating from the 13th century.
My “coup de coeur” component of the museum was however the Jesuit pharmacy. It is a (approximately) 3 meters – 10 feet – oak wood cupboard built in the first part of the 17th century and filled with the necessary bottles and jars for keeping “active” substances or the ingredients necessary for different potions.
The Paul Dupuy Museum Jesuit pharmacy is one of the most important mint condition preserved historic pharmacies.
The pharmacy was initially located in the Jesuit College of Toulouse (the actual College Fermat) but when the Jesuits were expulsed from France in 1763 after the Lavallette affair, was sold to a pharmacist called Jean-Antoine Vidailhan where it remained until the 20th century when it was bought by Paul Dupuy and moved to the museum.
Besides items as diverse as precious stones, red coral dust, copper and lead compounds, arsenic and opium, rhubarb, bay leaves, lemon zest etc. the pharmacy displays a big bottle of the so called “the four thieves’ vinegar” (“Le vinaigre de quatre voleurs”) and a big container of the famous poison antidote of the time: the theriaca.
“The four thieves’ vinegar” was a local pharmaceutical “invention”. The story goes that during a pest epidemic in the 17th century in Toulouse four thieves were caught robbing the pest dead victims – the thieves themselves being able to touch and handle the corpses without being infected. Under pressure the thieves then disclosed that they concocted themselves a potion made of rosemary, camphor, cloves, wormwood and sage and they were rubbing their bodies with this mixture and drinking it daily.
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