The doctor listens closely as she holds her head close to the patient. He leans his head forward whilst keeping patient and silent. The artist puts in some strong detail here, with lines being drawn over several times in order to leave a darker, stronger finish. He pays particular attention to the limbs, such as the gentleman's left arm. Small elements of the background are added to support the piece, but done so in a manner which we do not immediately notice them. Parts of the room's inventory are found to the right hand side, and a small mark is left in the bottom corner which confirms the authenticity of this piece. Drawings are normally harder to attribute, because of their relative simiplicity in relation to paintings or sculptures, and so a stamp can be given by the artist or those representing him in order to ensure that the piece is attributed correctly in the future. A catalogue raisonne in the 1970s has pulled together all of his work up to that point, and only a few further items have been added since.
Toulouse-Lautrec features more details here than in some of his other study drawings - see, for example, of how small hairs poke out from the man's chest. There is something almost cartoon like about this depiction, and we do know that the artist produced a number of caricatures during his lifetimes which fits with the style of this piece. There is also perhaps something humorous about this personal moment, with the large stomach hanging out as the doctor places her head to it. His beard also hangs from his body in a manner which underlines his ageing condition, and the expression on his face suggests an awkwardness at proceedings. The artist produced cartoons which poked fun at others, even his family and friends, in a manner which was light hearted and never intended to cause much offence.
This pencil drawing exists in several different versions and the particular piece in front of us here is listed as being 33,2 x 21,9 cm; 13⅛ x 8⅝ in. in size. There is also another artwork on the back, which suggests that this might have been within a sketchbook initially, before the artist decided to remove it and give it away separately. Many of his sketchbooks actually still exist and so this is quite a likely scenario. The auction listing at Sotheby's discusses the condition of this piece, but does not provide much information on the artwork in other ways, with information perhaps hard to find all these years later. L'Auscultation remains, however, one of his most memorable and charming drawings.