Artworks: “The Doctor” – Sir Luke Fildes (1891)

The Doctor exhibited 1891 Sir Luke Fildes 1843-1927 Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N01522

From an article in MedPage Today by Michael C. Luciano, MD:

You often hear about the practice of medicine which, by definition, is the repetition of a skill set to gain proficiency. All the education, hard work, and countless patient visits are part of this practice.

The art of medicine is the application of all this information and skills we learn and relaying this in a humane way to this one patient in front of you, which is the only thing that matters at this moment. I am here for you is what each patient deserves to feel. This, in my opinion, is what separates the good doctor from the great doctor. That skill is innate. Those going into the field for the right reasons have this within them.

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ABOUT THE PAINTING

In 1890 Sir Henry Tate (1819-98) commissioned a painting from Luke Fildes, the subject of which was left to his own discretion. The artist chose to recall a personal tragedy of his own, when in 1877 his first son, Philip, had died at the age of one in his Kensington home. Fildes’ son and biographer wrote: ‘The character and bearing of their doctor throughout the time of their anxiety, made a deep impression on my parents. Dr. Murray became a symbol of professional devotion which would day inspire the painting of The Doctor’ (Fildes, p.46). Fildes invented a new setting and characters for his painting, and in 1890 he made several sketches.

One year after Tate’s commission, The Doctor was exhibited at the Royal Academy. Agnews immediately published an engraving of it which sold over one million copies in the United States alone and became one of the most profitable prints made by the firm. The popularity of the painting confirms the popularity of social realism in art at this time, and Fildes was one of a number of artists, including Frank Holl (1845-88) and Hubert von Herkomer (1849-1914), whose paintings of the hardships of working class life were widely reproduced in The Graphic magazine. The Doctor was one of the fifty-seven pictures offered by Henry Tate as a gift to the nation in 1897.

Read more at Tate Museum website

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