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J R Soc Med. 2007 August; 100(8): 356.
PMCID: PMC1939952

Engraving of William Harvey

It was unfortunate that Mark Silverman (JRSM 2007;100:199-204)1 illustrated ‘his’ Lumleian Lecture of 1616 with such a poor image of Dr William Harvey, 1578-1657, and gave it the nonsensical caption of ‘William Harvey, engraving by Cornelius Jansen, 1878’. This illustration—taken from the front page of Medical Tribune: Therapaeia of 22 March 1978, where it was re-published to mark Harvey's 400th birthday—was engraved by an unknown nineteenth century artist and used earlier to celebrate Harvey's 300th birthday in 1878. It was claimed to be based on a portrait by Cornelius Janssen, but appears to be after the portrait attributed to Wilhelm van Bemmel, 1630-1708, that has been in the Hunterian Collection in Glasgow since the death of Dr William Hunter, 1718-1783, and which earlier had belonged to Dr Richard Meade, 1673-1754.

Cornelius Janssen van Keulen, 1593-1664, was a Dutch portrait painter who was born in London and moved to live in Amsterdam in 1643. The portrait of Harvey which has been in the possession of the Royal College of Physicians since before the Great Fire of London of 1666 has been ascribed to Janssen, but this is now thought to be highly unlikely.2 Two other portraits of Harvey are those attributed to Daniel Mytens, 1590-1642, in the National Portrait Gallery since 1976, and a lost portrait by Sir Peter Lely, 1618-1680, of which five copies have recently been identified.3 However, Janssen does appear to have painted Harvey, as a portrait by C Janssen of Dr Harvey was sold at Christie's in 1794 at the sale of pictures from the collection of John Hunter, 1728-1793. Unfortunately, this portrait was destroyed in a fire in 1830.4


Competing interests None declared.


1. Silverman ME. De Motu Cordis: the Lumleian Lecture of 1616: An imagined playlet concerning the discovery of the circulation of the blood by William Harvey. J R Soc Med 2007;100: 199-204 [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Keynes G. The Portraiture of William Harvey. 2nd edition. London: British Medical Association, The Keynes Press, 1985
3. Keynes M. The portrait of Dr William Harvey in the Royal Society since 1683. Notes Rec R Soc 2006;60: 249-52 [PubMed]
4. Christie J, 1730-1803. A catalogue of the genuine and valuable collection of capital pictures and drawings, of the Italian, French, Flemish, Dutch, and English schools... collected, with great taste, by the late eminent John Hunter, Esq. deceased:... which... will be sold by auction by Mr. Christie... on Wednesday, January the 29th. 1794. London, 1794

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