Decorating the RBMSCL

Along with print items, manuscripts, and artifacts, the History of Medicine Collections include works of art. On Friday, thanks to Peter Geoffrion, three pieces of artwork were hung in the RBMSCL.

In the RBMSCL’s reading room, we now have a portrait of Hans Horst Meyer, a German physician and pioneer in anesthesia. The portrait was a gift from his grandson, Professor J. Horst Meyer, Fritz London Professor Emeritus of Physics here at Duke University.

In the Trent Room (part of the Mary Duke Biddle Rare Book Room), a portrait of Valentine Mott and a framed ivory skeleton sculpture, or Memento Mori, were hung.

The Memento Mori piece is one of the most exquisite items in the History of Medicine Collections. A gift of Mrs. Mary D. B. T. Semans from the collection of her late husband, Dr. Josiah Charles Trent, this sculpture is carved from a single piece of ivory. Reminiscent of the illustrations from the famed Vesalius anatomical work, De Fabrica (1543), Memento Mori displays a variety of material goods splayed at the feet of the skeleton. Looking at this, one is reminded, that in the end, we’re all mere mortals.

Post contributed by Rachel Ingold, Curator for the History of Medicine Collections.