This plaster bust, after the original by William Behnes, depicts Bright draped in robes in a neoclassical style. The original was made in marble circa 1858 and is currently held in the Royal College of Physicians, London.

Richard Bright (1789 - 1858)

Bristol-born Bright studied at the University of Edinburgh and at Guy’s Hospital in London, obtaining his MD from Edinburgh in 1812. From around 1814 he travelled on the continent visiting medical faculties and practices along the way. The winter he spent in Vienna and his travels in Hungary provided the material for his Travels from Vienna through lower Hungary with some remarks on the state of Vienna during the congress in the year 1814 (1818).

On his return to London Bright worked at the Lock Hospital where he cared for syphilitic patients and the following year he took a position at the London Fever Hospital. In 1818 Bright was again travelling through Europe, often pursuing his particular interest in the practice of post-mortems on the continent.

On returning to London again Bright was elected a fellow of the Royal Society and assistant physician to Guy’s Hospital, becoming a full physician in 1824. In 1825 he was also recognised as a full lecturer in theory and practice of medicine. Bright’s most important work, and one which gained him international recognition at the time, was the Reports of medical cases selected with a view of illustrating the symptoms and cure of diseases by a reference to morbid anatomy. The first volume of the work was particularly significant as it definitively connected a chain of symptoms to impaired renal function.

Bright received a number of honours in his lifetime, including fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians in 1832 and the Monthyon medal (jointly with Pierre-François Olive Rayner and Martin Solon) for work on diseases of the kidney. In 1844 Bright retired from his post at Guys’ and concentrated on his private practice which cared for many members of the upper circles of society including Tennyson, Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Lord Macaulay.