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"Rogaine®: the Early Years”

Ambrose Castile

This is an excellent example of Castile's work, who was the official product evangelist and documenter of the pharmaceutical firm Mandrake & Wolfsbane from 1561- 1589. One of his responsibilities was keeping track of the effects of certain medicinal preparations on the volunteers or convicts that were used in the testing labs. Some of his other works, although never intended as fine art, are already recognized as masterpieces in the art of miniature painting. (See "Man with Expelled Lung" and "Great Balls of Fire," both in the Harnishfurger catalogue.)

According the the documentation, the subject is a Mr. Tobias Echtly, who came to Mandrake & Wolfsbane with a serious case of premature male pattern baldness. He volunteered for the hair restoration experimental group, and had results which were successful beyond anyone's imagining, producing a lustrous, allover pelt that made him the object of canine affection throughout his neighborhood and was, unfortunately, quite permanent.

Echtly gave up his day job and went on tour with circuses for the rest of his life, later becoming a pitchman for currycombs and Mandrake & Wolfsbane brand flea treatment. He married a performing collie with the circus and his children went on to become curiosities at the Flemish Academy of Teratology.

Castile's final painting was a self-portrait, his notable "Old Man with a Dissolving Skull," inspired by his volunteering for yet another hair restorative research program.


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