Academic Medicine:
Cover Note

SIR LUKE FILDES

CIOK, AMY E.

Free Access

Samuel Luke Fildes was born October 3, 1844. At the age of 17, he began studying design. Two years later, he moved to London to study at the South Kensington School, and in 1866, he was admitted to the Academy Schools.

One of Fildes' first jobs was as an illustrator with The Graphic, a weekly social reform newspaper. Fildes' images were of the poor and homeless Victorians. One of his engravings caught the eye of Charles Dickens, who retained Fildes to illustrate what would be Dicken's last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

By 1870, Fildes' popularity had soared. He left The Graphic and began oil painting. Sir Henry Tate commissioned Fildes to paint a picture for his new National Gallery of British Art. This painting, The Doctor (featured on this month's cover), was inspired by the doctor who stayed vigilantly with Fildes' eldest son during his fatal illness in 1877. This image became one of the best-selling paintings turned-engravings of the Victorian era. It also appeared on stamps from Britain and the United States.

Fildes' continued to focus on social issues in his work, but by 1880 he had begun to paint more portraits. Within 20 years, he had become one of the highest paid, most popular portrait painters, which garnered him a knighthood in 1906. Among the notable persons he painted were Edward VII, the Princess of Wales, Queen Alexandria, and George V.

Fildes died of pneumonia February 27, 1927, at the age of 83.

© 2002 Association of American Medical Colleges

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