The Linacre, Harvey and Sydenham Triptych (Osler's copy)

The famous triptych, belonged to William Osler, with the portraits of Thomas Linacre, William Harvey and Thomas Sydenham is at the Osler Library of the History of Medicine in Montreal. The original version of the triptych, belonged to Henry Acland, can now be seen over the mantel in William Osler's house in Oxford.


Linacre, Harvey and Sydenham were Osler's three medical heroes and "the great triumvirate of British Medicine"1. Osler 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 triumvirate 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.

After Osler's death, his copy of the triptych was sent to Montreal, together with his library.

“[T]he Report of the Librarian (W.W.Francis) to the Curators of the Osler Library of June 25th, 1930, states (…) that the portraits of Linacre, Harvey, and Sydenham (framed together) were received from Mrs. H.B. Chapin, Lady Osler's sister and executrix, and were hung in the Library. They were framed, maintaining Osler's sequence of Linacre, Harvey, Sydenham by Eglintons Ltd., of 1468 Mansfield Street, Montreal, and were hung over the lintel of the entrance to the Osler Library in the Strathcona Medical Building. Then in 1965 they were moved to the Osler Library's new quarters in the McIntyre Building.3".

  • Photos by ti.supmacinu|ihgrob.l#ihgroB acuL (July 2017), courtesy of the Osler Library.


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