Two mid 19th century French apothecary container for one for Artemisia Absinthium the other Euphorbia Lathyris. Both jars have gold leaf surrounds.
Artemisia Absinthium is a bitter herb, the oil of which is dark green/blue in colour. It is used in the making of the absinthe liquor, popular in late 19th century France among the Bohemian set of Parisian artists and writers. Van Gogh and Oscar Wilde were said to be devotees, and absinthe was also supposed to have been the undoing of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (“art, alcohol and absinthe”). In addition to being alcoholic it was hallucinogenic, although the legendary psychoactive properties of the “Green Fairy” may have been exaggerated.
Euphorbia Lathyris is, cathartic, emetic and purgative. The rubefacient action of the leaves was employed by beggars to raise unsightly sores on their skins to elicit pity and thereby obtain more money. French country folk took it as a purgative. One seed capsule is said to cause catharsis, several to cause an abortion. It is a folk remedy for cancer, corns, diarrhoea, gangrene, melanoma and skin ailments. The seeds have been used for erysipelas, paralysis, and rheumatism. Overdose can result in dilated pupils and collapse, arrhythmias and delirium.
- From the Phisick collection