Skip to main content

Famed American Surgeon, Dr. Samuel Gross, Subject of Eakins’ Famous Painting, Recommends a Nurse

Item: 22890
Add to Wishlist

GROSS, SAMUEL D. (1805-1884). American surgeon and pedagogue immortalized in Thomas Eakins 1875 painting The Gross Clinic. ADS. (“S.D. Gross”). 1 2/3p. 8vo. Philadelphia, April 11, 1883.

It affords me very great pleasure to testify to the fidelity & competency of Miss Sally Hodgson as a nurse; a capacity in which she has served for upwards of two years in the Jefferson Medical College Hospital. During this time she had under her charge numerous patients, of both sexes & of nearly every age, whom she attended day & night with the most tender devotion & most undeviating kindness, often at the expense of great personal inconvenience, if not absolute suffering. These circumstances have endeared her to all the officers as well as the servants of the Hospital, & it is therefore with not a little regret that we part with her…”

Eakins painting

Thomas Eakin’s painting The Gross Clinic

Over the course of his long medical career, Gross secured a reputation as one of the leading surgeons of his time, culminating in his professorship of surgery at Philadelphia’s Jefferson Medical College, from which he had graduated in 1828. In addition to his pedagogical duties there, he led the American Medical Association as president, where he emphasized scientific rigor and helped found the American Surgical Association and Philadelphia Pathological Association.

In 1875, Gross was immortalized by Thomas Eakins in his painting The Gross Clinic, considered one of America’s greatest paintings. Extremely controversial in its day and banned from the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia because of its graphic subject matter, the painting shows in vivid detail Gross at the center of his operating theater at Jefferson Medical College, bloody scalpel in hand, standing with authority and resolve surrounded by his students. Eakins, who taught drawing and anatomy at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, encouraged his students to attend dissections and included a self-portrait in The Gross Clinic, in which he depicts himself as a student taking notes on the surgery. Formerly owned by Thomas Jefferson University, The Gross Clinic now resides in the collections of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

Accompanied by a one-page folded handbill announcing courses and news at the Medical Faculty of Jefferson College, signed in type by the Faculty Dean, Nathan R. Smith. Our letter, folded into thirds and written on the recto and verso of a folded sheet, is in fine condition. A scarce medical autograph.

Famed American Surgeon, Dr. Samuel Gross, Subject of Eakins’ Famous Painting, Recommends a Nurse

$1400 • item #22890

    Just this once...
    Please share your name and email address to receive:

      We will not share your contact info