At Large  June 5, 2020  Cynthia Close

How Art Reflects the Changing History of Medicine

wikimedia commons

Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918), Valentine Godé-Darel on Her Sickbed, 1914.

In April, art institutions began honoring the medical profession by showcasing works from their collections under the hashtag #MuseumsThankHealthHeroes. As we cheer the heroic efforts of frontline healthcare workers while safely working from home and waiting for a vaccine for COVID-19, artists continue to document our times. Artists have depicted medical advances and health practices throughout history in ways that reflect changing attitudes towards those professions, fear of disease, hope, and empathy. Here are 10 artworks that show how perspective on medicine have changed throughout our history.

About the Author

Cynthia Close

Cynthia Close holds a MFA from Boston University, was an instructor in drawing and painting, Dean of Admissions at The Art Institute of Boston, founder of ARTWORKS Consulting, and former executive director/president of Documentary Educational Resources, a film company. She was the inaugural art editor for the literary and art journal Mud Season Review. She now writes about art and culture for several publications.