John Mudge

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Portrait of: John Mudge
By: W. Dickinson
After: Sir Joshua Reynolds
Style: Mezzotint
Dimensions: 27. 6 x 34. 5 cm

John Mudge (1721-1793) was a surgeon and physician born in Devon. He was well connected and renowned amongst his contemporaries, with acquaintances including Samuel Johnson, James Boswell and Joshua Reynolds. His success was aided by family connections as well as by talent. Mudge became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1777.

Many of the portraits depict the sitter wearing a gown and turban, the combination implying their situation in the domestic sphere. Brandon Brame Fortune argues that the banyan and turban in this context indicated both the wealthy and leisured social position of the sitter and his studious and creative life. The appeal of these robes for professional men was the loose fitting nature of the garment that implied an intellectual freedom through lack of sartorial restraint; additionally the turban was worn in the domestic sphere as a warm and comfortable replacementfor a wig. Therefore the choice for medical practitioners to be depicted in this state of undress can be seen in the context of their desire to appear studious.

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