May 9, 2013

The Portraits

I have a new job and part of what I am doing is writing the history of medicine in Maryland.  As you might have noticed, I like history, historical houses, antique furniture and old things. So this job is perfect.

I work in a building built in 1909 specifically for our organization. I am surrounded by old books, including the four-story “stacks” library. Old books are everywhere, in fact. I found several books printed in 1724 on the shelves in my office. image

Our CEO found this topper in a box in his closet and now it’s in my office. It fits perfectly!image

But the one project that’s taking most of my time right now is matching the dozens of portraits of former presidents of our organization with their biographies, which I am also researching.

Some bright spark decided to remove all of the name plates and plaques from the portraits, which number more than 100. While we do have an inventory and appraisal of the portraits, it’s not illustrated!image

Many of the plates were hand-painted, either on brass or on wood. Even though the brass ones have tarnished over the years, you can still read the names on them, and you can see where the paint is flaking off some of the brass ones. The John Archer plate is just beautiful, isn’t it?image

I thought I’d show you a small sample of some of the men that I work with!  This is who shares my office. He’s probably been dead for 100+ years, so he’s a good mate to have around.  Nice and quiet. image

Here’s another one near my office. image

He’s kind of sad, but I am sure he was a lovely man!image

This is one of my favourites.image

Lest you think it’s only a men’s club, there are some gals… mostly wives and daughters. image

Very strong jawline!image

I am kind of fond of this guy…  I see him on the way to and from the loo!image

Apparently, this chap has quite the collection of early 19th century furniture in the Met in NYC! image

Poor thing, the gash in the painting’s not doing him any favours.image

Very prosperous looking, this one!image

I can’t decide which is scarier – the eyebrows or the hair!image

I am a big fan of this guy!image

As I move forward with this project, I will be updating you about it, and about our amazing links to Baltimore’s, Maryland’s and the nation’s history!


  1. Hello PTD: This is a fun post, indeed. It is always a marvel to me how people get these bright ideas to do things like remove portrait plaques over the years. How dunder-headed was that! RD

  2. If you are writing the history of medicine in Maryland, it seems you have your work cut out for you. One related item I came across in my reading was that Dr. William Wilmer and his Wilmer Eye Institute saved the eyesight of author Booth Tarkington (The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams, among many others), who was very grateful to Dr. Wilmer and dedicated his book Penrod Jashber to him.

    By the way, how many of those plaques have to managed to match to their portraits?
    --Road to Parnassus

  3. Was Monsieur #3 a gynecologist?

  4. You know I am fascinated by this, Meg. Many of my ancestors are from the Baltimore area including the Peale family so I am really excited for your job.
    I do think eyebrow man is a an ancestor of Sam Donaldson, no?

  5. Meg, have you been to Davidge Hall? I worked there many years ago for the University of Maryland Medical Alumni Association. That building was constructed in 1812 and is still in use today as a teaching facility - the oldest in the US! I also had portraits of doctors looking down on me and that staircase is very similar to the one I climbed daily to get to my office. Let me know if you haven't been there. I might be able to arrange a tour!

  6. I'm not sure that I would trust some of those guys with my health--the "eyebrows" character would be a real put-off.
    Have a wonderful day with your compadres.
    xoxoxo Mary

  7. How time has changed + love that you have the job.

  8. I am loving watching this unfold!


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