It is not known who created this plaster bust of Galen which represents the smallest bust in the College's collection. It is less than half the size of a standard portrait bust and is executed in a classical style.

Galen also appears in a roundel portrait in the Great Hall.

Galen (ca. 129 -199)

Galen was a Greek physician and he was popular amongst his contemporaries, who translated his works into Syriac and Arabic. Moreover, his works spread through Europe, in Latin translations, from the eleventh century and Galenism came to dominate the medical thought of medieval Europe. Particularly important was his insistence that organisms be understand as unified bodies with interdependent parts. He, like Aristotle, believed that nature made nothing superfluous, something which he aimed to demonstrate in Peri chreias morion (ca.169-175).

Galen is also known for his theory of the four humours; however this largely a restatement of Hippocrates’ theory of the four qualities. However, Galen believed that the bodily temperament, rather than climate as Hippocrates had insisted, influenced the habits of the soul, a doctrine that attempted to reconcile medicine and philosophy and reinforce Galen’s claim that the best physicians were also philosophers.

Galen’s knowledge of anatomy was based on dissections of animals rather than humans and this led to flaws in his understanding of human anatomy. During and after the seventeenth century (in which William Harvey discovered the circulation of the blood) Galen’s doctrines gradually ceased to dominate medicine.