Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Medical Classic

The Doctor

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 06 January 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:b5660
  1. Chris Barrett, specialist registrar in neurosurgery, Newcastle General Hospital, Newcastle Upon Tyne
  1. chris.barrett{at}

    The Doctor, painted in 1891 by the royal academician Luke Fildes, is perhaps one of the most positive images of the medical profession to disseminate widely in British art.

    Tate, London 2008

    It shows a family doctor sitting impassively and calmly contemplating his patient, a child, sleeping fitfully in the grip of a fever. A moment of crisis has passed, and there is little the doctor can do but wait; his scientific knowledge (represented by the oil lamp in the darkened room) is of little use against infectious diseases in the era before antibiotics. The child’s parents loom …

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