A sickly young woman sits covered up on a balcony; death (a ghostly skeleton clutching a scythe and an hourglass) is standing next to her; representing tuberculosis. Watercolour by R. Cooper, ca. 1912.

  • Cooper, Richard Tennant, 1885-1957.
  • Pictures
  • Online

Selected images from this work

View 1 image

About this work


Tuberculosis (TB) of bones or lungs is a disease affecting young as well as old, causing exhaustion, fever, wasting and early death. The disease was very common in England around 1912 when Henry S. Wellcome commissioned this allegory of tuberculosis. It shows an emaciated young woman sitting on a balcony overlooking a Swiss or Italian valley. She does not have much more time in which to enjoy the beauty of this world, as Death grips her hand and tells her that it is time for her to depart.



Physical description

1 painting : watercolour, with gouache and pencil ; image 41.7 x 45.5 cm



Terms of use

Copyright was assigned by the artist to the Wellcome organization


Wellcome Collection 24009i

References note

Yubraj Sharma, Spiritual energetics of homoeopathic materia medica, Wembley: Academy of light, 2006, vol. 2, p. 733
Charlotte A. Roberts and Jane E. Buikstra, The bioarchaeology of tuberculosis: a global view on a reemerging disease, Gainesville : University Press of Florida, 2003, p. 220 (reproduced)

Creator/production credits

One of several paintings commissioned by Henry S. Wellcome around 1912 from Richard Cooper, who was then working in Paris. Cooper was educated at Tonbridge and then trained as an artist in Paris before the First World War. In 1914 he joined the British Army and in 1916 was transferred to the Royal Engineers. His obituary in The times says that he worked on camouflage with Solomon J. Solomon RA as well as acting as official war artist for The graphic. After the war he enjoyed a flourishing career as a graphic artist designing posters: he is particularly well known for his advertisements for the London Underground

Exhibitions note

Exhibited in “Diseases: Curse of the past, threat to the future” at Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum, Hildesheim, Germany, 1 October 2021 – 17 July 2022


Where to find it

  • LocationStatusAccess
    Closed stores

Permanent link