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Edward Jenner (1749–1823) is well known because of his pioneering work on developing a vaccination for smallpox, which in the eighteenth century killed hundreds of thousands of people across Europe. Jenner was interested in the common belief that people who had had cowpox could not catch smallpox, and he experimented by inoculating a small child first with the cowpox virus, and then with smallpox; the child was immune. Jenner received his medical training from the famous teacher John Hunter, whose experimental approach inspired Jenner to undertake the vaccination. Following Jenner’s discovery, large-scale vaccination programmes were carried out throughout Europe, Russia and the United States. In Britain vaccination clinics were opened and in 1803 the Royal Jennerian Society was formed, with Jenner as president. Smallpox was globally eradicated in 1979.
oil on canvas
H 74.2 x W 61.5 cm
gift from W. H. Baillie, 1895