chapter  8
5 Pages

The Four Doctors

In 1906, the Florentine-born American painter John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) completed the extraordinary painting The Four Doctors in his London studio. This work captured one of the most significant periods of American medicine: the development of the pre-eminent Johns Hopkins medical system, dedicated to science, bedside care and laboratory medicine. In this work, the great painter, at the request of a dedicated Hopkins benefactor, Mary Elizabeth Garrett, and in agree­ ment with the Board of Trustees, paid tribute to the four founders of Johns Hopkins Medical School.1'3

Miss Garrett was not unknown to Sargent since he had painted her earlier when the Board of Trustees wanted to recognize her donation to the medical school. She realized then the enormous virtues of the artist and suggested to the Board and financially supported a painting representative of the best of the faculty of the new medical school. The

work took almost a year to paint and it was clear that the lofty goals of this painting were fully satisfied. The clients, the Hopkins Board, were captivated by the extraordinary aptitudes of this singular artist and by the sublime depiction of the fictitious encounter of the four great doctors.