Baroness Burdett-Coutts' garden party at Holly Lodge, Highgate, for members of the International Medical Congress, 1881. Oil painting by Archibald Preston Tilt and/or Alfred Preston Tilt and/or Arthur Preston Tilt, 1881-1882.

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About this work


The International Medical Congress held in London in 1881 was the largest held up to that date. It publicised the case for using living animals in medical experiments, and it gave physicians and surgeons from many countries the chance to hear of the new science of bacteriology from speakers such as Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch. People attending from North America included the head of the Surgeon-General's Library, John Shaw Billings, and the young Canadian doctor William Osler, who later became a revered teacher and writer. The festivities included a garden party given by Angela, Baroness Burdett-Coutts. She had inherited a banking fortune, which she used for many philanthropic projects, using Charles Dickens as one of her advisers. She supported the International Medical Congress by offering a garden party on the afternoon of Monday 8 August 1881. It was held in her garden at Holly Lodge in Highgate: after her death and the death of her husband, the garden was built over with large residential buildings called the Holly Lodge Estate.

Most of the people portrayed in the painting have been identified, and a key was published by Sakula (1982). There is one man in Chinese dress: he may be the man with the Chinese name who is listed among the members of the Congress in its Transactions: "Dr Ho Kai, St Thomas's Hospital"

"A large number of visitors attended the garden party kindly given to members of the Congress by the Baroness Burdett-Coutts at her residence, Holly Lodge near Highgate"--programe for Monday 8 August, in Transactions of the International Medical Congress, 7th session, London 1881, vol. 1 p. 90 . On Saturday 6 August "Several hundred ladies and gentlemen accepted Mr and Mrs Thomas Spencer Wells' invitation to a garden party at Hampstead" (ibid. p. 72)



Physical description

1 painting : oil on canvas ; canvas approximately 135 x 200 cm


A. P. Tilt 1882

References note

Alex Sakula, 'Baroness Burdett-Coutts' garden party: the International Medical Congress, London, 1881', Medical history, 1982, 26: 183-190
Alex Sakula, The portraiture of Sir William Osler, London 1991, pp. 5-7
Christopher Wright et al., British and Irish paintings in public collections, New Haven and London: Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2006, p. 770


Wellcome Collection 47362i

Creator/production credits

The picture was painted by three brothers all called A.P. Tilt: Alfred Preston Tilt, who died of tuberculosis in 1883 on the voyage to Australia, and his two brothers Archibald Preston Tilt (1854-1888) and Arthur Preston Tilt (1853-1916)

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    On Exhibition
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