The Linacre, Harvey and Sydenham triptych

This famous panel with the portraits of Thomas Linacre, William Harvey and Thomas Sydenham can still be seen over the mantel in William Osler's library of his house in Oxford.

They were Osler's three medical heroes and "the great triumvirate of Bristih Medicine"1. He saw the triptych for the first time in 1894, in the library of the then Regius Professor of Medicine Sir Henry Acland: "On first entering Acland's library, Osler exclaimed with delight at the panel of three portraits - Linacre, Harvey, and Sydenham - which stood over the mantel. He made such an ado about it that Mrs. Osler subsequently asked Sir Henry if they might not be copied for him as a birthday present. This was done, and in turn the triumviarte came to adorn the mantel of his own library and office at 1 West Franklin Street [in Baltimore], a familiar sight to countless students, friends, and patients. This same panel, moreover, was to dominate Osler's library in Oxford, for though his teacher Burdon Sanderson came between, it would almost seem as though Acland had knowingly handed on an emblem of the Regius Professorship to the man destined, in the whirligig of time and place, to become his successor"2.

  • Photos by ti.supmacinu|ihgrob.l#ihgroB acuL (August 2011), courtesy of the Osler-McGovern Centre.

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