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Benjamin Rush
Photographer: Thomas Sully
Taken: Circa 1812
Caption: Benjamin Rush
Additional Description: This 1812-13 portrait of Benjamin Rush by Thomas Sully hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.

“Benjamin Rush was a prominent physician, a social reformer, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. After studying medicine abroad at the University of Edinburgh, he returned to Philadelphia to work. He advocated bloodletting and purges for many diseases but also moved the profession toward more manageable diagnoses and treatment regimens. Rush's accomplishments were many. He was a pioneer in the study of mental illness; he organized the Pennsylvania antislavery society; he agitated for prison reform and the education of women; and he wrote the first American chemistry text.

Thomas Sully depicted Rush as a thoughtful man of letters. One of Rush's colleagues, who commissioned a version of this portrait, described how Sully ‘appreciate[d] the mind which animates the face of my friend ... I have no doubt that you will be enabled to furnish me with a portrait which will be gratifying to me.’” – National Portrait Gallery
Submitted: July 22, 2018, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.
Database Locator Identification Number: p436576
File Size: 1.028 Megabytes

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