Why a surgeon paints

“He who wishes to be a surgeon should go to war…”


In 1916 Capt Theodore Howard Somervell was member of the British Army Medical Corp. On the first day of the Somme over 37,000 men were wounded, and Somervell as part of a four man surgical team dealt with several thousand of them. Despite the overwhelming carnage around him, Somervell found a way to keep his sanity by painting simple watercolours of the scenes around him. In doing so he captured the essence of field hospital care, as well as the destruction of local French villages. He was also a photographer. His images are rare photographic documentation of WW1 field surgery during battles such as the Somme. Capt Somervell was a remarkable man. In the early 1920s he helped lead an expedition to Everest, coming within 500m of the summit. In 1924 he won a winter Olympic gold medal for mountaineering. By 1930 Somervell was an ardent pacifist, evenually moving to India and establishing a series of rural missionary hospitals. This is a remarkable surgeon, artist, adventurer and humanitarian. In 2021 we need more of this. #nextlevelpenpaintandscalpel #letsmakelemonade

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