Friday, 4 March 2016

Cheselden and Belchier - Royal College of Surgeons

Two Plaster busts at the Royal College of Surgeons
by Louis Francois Roubiliac
William Cheselden (1688 - 1752) and John Belchier (1706 - 85).
William Cheselden (1688 - 1752).
Plaster bust
  I am very grateful to Bruce Simpson, Curator, Royal College of Surgeons for providing this photograph.
William Cheselden, by Jonathan Richardson, 1720s or 1730s - NPG 4995 - © National Portrait Gallery, London
William Cheselden
by Jonathan Richardson
1720's or 1730's.
140 x 118 mm.
This portrait is of the anatomist and eminent surgeon William Cheselden, who was one of the closest friends of the artist, Jonathan Richardson. It is one of a series of small chalk and graphite drawings of friends and acquaintances that Richardson made in his retirement. Some of these images were drawn from memory and together, they represent a sustained project in recording friendships across Richardson's whole life. Drawing was the perfect medium for this project as it allowed Richardson to produce a large number of images quickly and was closely associated with friendship and intimacy.
Text and image © National Portrait Gallery, London
by Jonathan Richardson
British Museum
William Cheselden
Jonathan Richardson
Royal College of Surgeons
William Cheselden
John Faber after Jonathan Richardson.
William Cheselden giving an anatomical demonstration to six spectators in the anatomy-theatre of the Barber-Surgeons' Company, London.
Oil painting, ca. 1730/1740.
Welcome Library, London.
John Belchier (1706 - 85).
Plaster Bust
Royal College of Surgeons
There  is mention of busts of Belchier and Dr Richard Mead in the Museum at Guys Hospital in an inventory published in 1829 by Thomas Hodgkin.
 I am very grateful to Bruce Simpson, Curator, Royal College of Surgeons for providing this photograph (above).
 John Belchier (1706-1785) who was at Guy's Hospital 1736-68. He discovered at about the time of his Guy's appointment that the vegetable dye madder stained newly forming bone tissue, opening up the study of the growth and development of the skeleton, which was vigorously taken forward by Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau and John Hunter. , and was a member of the Court of Assistants at the Company of Surgeons from 1751 to 1785. [Wikipedia]
The Oxford DNB entry is more extensive:  "John Belchier  (bap. 1706, d. 1785), surgeon, the son of James Belchier, innkeeper and bailiff of Kingston, was born at Kingston, Surrey, and was baptized there on 5 March 1706. He entered Eton College as a king's scholar in 1716. On leaving school he was apprenticed to William Cheselden, head surgeon at St Thomas's Hospital, London. By perseverance Belchier became eminent in his profession, and in 1736 he was appointed surgeon to Guy's Hospital. In 1732 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.  He was a founding governor of the Foundling Hospital, a charity created by Royal Charter in 1739. Belchier was awarded the Copley Medal by the Royal Society in 1737, and his name appears on the list of the council from 1769 to 1772.
He contributed some papers to the society's Philosophical Transactions. On Belchier's retirement as surgeon of Guy's Hospital he was elected one of its governors, and also a governor of St Thomas's Hospital. He had an exaggerated reverence for the name of Guy, saying ‘that no other man would have sacrificed £150,000 for the benefit of his fellow-creatures’. In the Gentleman's Magazine for 1743 is the following story:
One Stephen Wright, who, as a patient, came to Mr. Belchier, a surgeon, in Sun Court, being alone with him in the room clapt a pistol to his breast, demanding his money. Mr. Belchier offered him two guineas, which he refused; but, accepting of six guineas and a gold watch, as he was putting them in his pocket Mr. Belchier took the opportunity to seize upon him, and, after a struggle, secured him. (GM, 1st ser., 13, 1743, 50)
A stout but active man, Belchier died suddenly in Sun Court, Threadneedle Street, on 6 February 1785 after returning from Batsons Coffee House. His manservant had attempted to raise his master but was told ‘No John—I am dying. Fetch me a pillow; I may as well die here as anywhere else’ (Wilks and Bettany, 127). He was buried in the founder's vault in the chapel attached to Guy's Hospital."
John Belchier (1706–1785)
John Belchier
 by Ozias Humphrey (1742 - 1810).
Oil on Canvas
76 x 64 cms
 Presented in 1785 to -
Royal College of Surgeons
 Engraving from the European Magazine which included an obituary - April 1785.
'Mr Belchier was a great admirer of the fine arts and lived in habits of intimacy with the principal artists of his time'.
A short lecture on the subject of Belchier

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