Exhibition | The Generous Georgian: Dr Richard Mead

Posted in conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on September 4, 2014

From The Foundling Museum:

The Generous Georgian: Dr Richard Mead
The Foundling Museum, London, 26 September 2014 — 4 January 2015

Allan Ramsay, Dr Richard Mead, 1747 (London: The Foundling Museum)

Allan Ramsay, Dr Richard Mead, 1747
(London: The Foundling Museum)

Dr Richard Mead (1673–1754) was one of the most eminent physicians, patrons, collectors, and philanthropists of his day, as well as a significant figure in the early history of the Foundling Hospital. A leading expert on poisons, scurvy, smallpox, and public health, Mead counted among his patients Queen Anne, King George II, Sir Isaac Newton, and the painter Antoine Watteau. A man of action, Mead explored poisons by drinking snake venom and is said to have defended his theory on smallpox treatment to the point of fighting a duel.

His home on Great Ormond Street backed onto the Foundling Hospital grounds and housed a magnificent collection of paintings, sculptures, antiquities, coins, and a library of over 10,000 volumes. Painters and scholars were given access to Mead’s renowned collection, which in a time before public galleries offered visitors a rare chance to view masterpieces from around the world. Examining its significance in London’s cultural landscape, this exhibition reunites key objects from his life and collection, such as the ancient bronze Arundel Head (2nd century BC) and Allan Ramsay’s half-length portrait of Mead.

Exploring Mead ‘in the round’, as a collector, philanthropist and physician, this exhibition will bring to light the Foundling Hospital’s relationship with a truly remarkable individual who, according to his contemporary the writer Samuel Johnson, “lived more in the broad sunshine of life than almost any man.”

The Generous Georgian: Dr Richard Mead is supported by the Wellcome Trust, the City of London Corporation and Verita.

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Conference programme from The Foundling:

Dr Richard Mead: Physician, Philanthropist, Collector
The Foundling Museum, London, 20 October 2014

To accompany the Museum’s autumn exhibition, The Generous Georgian: Dr Richard Mead, this one-day interdisciplinary conference considers the life, work, and collections of Mead. Adults £20, Concessions £15. To book, download a booking form or book online (subject to an 8% booking fee). Please send completed booking forms to: Stephanie Chapman, 40 Brunswick Square, London, WC1N 1AZ. For enquiries please contact exhibitions@foundlingmuseum.org.uk.


8:30  Optional early morning tour of the Royal College of Physicians (11 St Andrews Place, Regent’s Park) with curator Emma Shepley, addressing Richard Mead and his role in the institution.

9:15  Travel to the Foundling Museum. You will need to make your own way by public transport from RCP to the Foundling Museum, but staff will be able to recommend routes. The journey time is approximately 30 minutes.

9:30  Coffee and registration

10:00  Welcome

10:15  Ludmilla Jordanova, ‘The Problem of Richard Mead’

11:00  Break

11:30  Karen Howell, ‘The Curious Prescriptions of Dr Mead’

12:00  Janette Bright, ‘Dr Mead and the Curious Herbal’

12:30  Kevin Brown, ‘Richard Mead, George Anson’s Circumnavigation of the Globe, and the Health of the Seaman’

13:00  Lunch

14:00  Stephanie Chapman, ‘Richard Mead and the Foundling Hospital’

14:30  Tour of the exhibition, The Generous Georgian: Dr Richard Mead

15:00  Charles Avery, ‘The Large Brass Medallions Cast by Soldani, Selvi, and Pozzi in the Musaeum Meadianum’

15:30  Craig Hanson, ‘Debating Dissent in Leiden’

16:00  Refreshments

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