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Hmm, these big white walls at the entrance to the Wellcome Library look rather bare and cold.
What does it look like if we try putting a painting up? One with warm colours, like one of the four paintings of the Acts of Mercy by Frederick Cayley Robinson, which the Wellcome Library acquired recently from the Middlesex Hospital?
Suppose we hang them in pairs? Would they fit?
Yes, the space could almost have been designed for them.
Magnificent! One can see how they relate to each other: there is a narrative in the pair that was designed to be seen sequentially, and a symmetry in those which were painted to be seen en face. And different colour schemes: the pair painted in World War I is more sombre, though whether the difference will be so pronounced when the pictures are cleaned cannot be known at present. Now that the paintings are again on display, details which have been overlooked are now visible, such as the pitted surface of the ancient stone steps, or the man with the handcart in the bottom right corner of one of the paintings: it looks as if he is delivering groceries to a Fitzrovia townhouse.
Visit the Wellcome Library to learn more about these paintings, their painter and their history. And if you were ever a patient, visitor or staff member at the Middlesex Hospital in Mortimer Street, London, do revisit these old friends.
Author: William Schupbach