Dr. Ralph Schomburg, a fashionable physician

Dr. Ralph Schomburg
Dr. Ralph Schomburg (1714–1792)

Thomas Gainsborough

National Gallery, London

This painting by Thomas Gainsborough is from the National Gallery in London. It shows the physician, Dr. Ralph Schomburg (1714–1792). While residing in Bath, Dr. Schomburg attended on Gainsborough himself as well as on his daughters. Story has it that Gainsborough painted this portrait in lieu of paying the doctor’s fee.

It is reported that Schomburg, ambitious to be a dramatic author, was a close friend of David Garrick, the famous playwright, theatre manager, and producer, who refused to ever perform his plays. The painting itself has a curious history. It was originally donated to the gallery by someone who did not have the right or authority to do so. After being exhibited for some time it had to be returned to the trustees, who later sold it back to the gallery for 1,000 pounds.

 


 

GEORGE DUNEA, MD, Editor-in-Chief (Winter 2012)

 

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