Edward Jenner

Click to enlarge

Portrait of: Edward Jenner
Style: etching
Dimensions: 35 x 43. 4 cm

Edward Jenner (1749-1823), surgeon and pioneer of smallpox vaccination, was born in Gloucestershire. He trained at St George's Hospital, London, as a student of John Hunter. He received his MD in 1792 from the University of St Andrews. He made his first vaccination in 1796, publishing his findings in 1798, however it took a decade for the government to accept his theory. Despite this, the National Vaccine Establishment was founded in 1808 and by 1853 vaccination had become compulsory in Britain. Jenner became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

Jenner’s dress in this portrait is draped in a way reminiscent of the toga. For the Romans the toga was worn by the ruling classes as a form of public dresssymbolising power, nationality, and masculinity. The toga was impractical to wear and the act of wearing it was considered a skill, which required training and assistance from servants. The toga was therefore a symbolic form of public dress rather than a practical outfit and was alluded to in many portraits of the long eighteenth century.

Home Patronage Groups Teaching and Demonstrating Buildings Dress