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Image of the Week: Christmas on the ward

20 Dec, 2013

L0032764 Christmas Day in a ward of a hospital

This image of the week shows a hospital ward during World War I, with festive decoration bringing some seasonal cheer to patients. Christmas decorations hang from the ceiling of the ward adding splashes of red and green across the painting. The use of perspective, with rows of identical beds draws you into the ward. Patients sit upright in their beds while nurses seem to move around this ward filled with light and space. It is almost possible to hear the conversation between the nurses and imagine the thoughts of the patient in the foreground of this image.

Little is known about the creation of this watercolour other than Nurse Dakin signed the backing board. Curiously, Dakin dated this image twice, once on the back with the year 1917 and once on the front with 1918. These dates led archivists to the interesting conclusion that this image of a military ward was completed over several months during the festive season. The painting itself is currently held in the Wellcome Library in London, alongside a collection of World War I images and other medicine-related paintings.

The Wellcome Trust office is closed for Christmas from 20th December until 2nd January, so we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a merry Christmas and we look forward to seeing you again in 2014.

Image Credit: Nurse Dakin, Wellcome Images London.

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