• Robinson, Frederic Cayley, 1862-1927
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Acts of mercy. Oil paintings by Frederick Cayley Robinson, 1915-1920.
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Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

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Orphans. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). Source: Wellcome Collection.

Selected images from this work

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About this work

Also known as

Previous title, replaced August 2023: Orphan girls entering the refectory of a hospital. Oil painting by Frederick Cayley Robinson, 1915.


The painting shows the historic role of the hospital in bringing up and sustaining orphans and other needy people of all kinds. The Foundling Hospital established in London in 1739 is an example of a hospital that fulfilled that role. Much earlier, Domenico di Bartolo's frescoes in Siena had included a scene of the reception, bringing up, and marriage of girls entrusted to the hospital of that city. In the present painting the uniformed girls enter the refectory through an arched staircase on the left that Cayley Robinson derived from Edward Burne-Jones's painting The golden stairs (1876-1880: Tate Britain): the serpentine line which it initiates continues in the next painting in the pair.



Physical description

1 painting : oil on canvas ; sight 196 x 335.5 cm ; canvas 199 x 339 x 4 cm


Cayley - Robinson, 1915.


Left painting of the pair.
Title provided by the artist.

Exhibitions note

Exhibited in “Feeding the 400” at The Foundling Museum, London, 23 September 2016 - 8 January 2017
Exhibited in “Acts of Mercy 'Orphans'” at UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre, London, 13 March 2012-28 February 2016.
Exhibited in the Wellcome Library 5 November 2010-27 April 2012
Exhibited in ‘Frederick Cayley Robinson: Acts of mercy’ at the National Gallery, London, 14 July-17 October 2010
Exhibited in the Wellcome Library, London, 31 March 2009 - 2 July 2010.
Exhibited in the Winter Exhibition at the Royal Academy, London, 1928
Exhibited in the 56th Liverpool Autumn Exhibition, 1928


Wellcome Collection 672831i

Where to find it

  • Orphans [left painting of two]

    Location Access
    On Exhibition
    Can't be requested


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