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Edward Jenner Vaccinating a Boy

Photo credit: Wellcome Collection

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Smallpox was once a common epidemic disease that killed, blinded or disfigured its victims. In the eighteenth century its impact was reduced in Europe by a Chinese practice called variolation, the injection of smallpox fluid from an infected human into a healthy human. In 1798, Edward Jenner proposed a safer modification of variolation, called vaccination, which involved the injection of fluid from an infected cow into human beings. He based his suggestion on experiments he had first carried out in 1796, after many years of observations. On 14 May 1796 he inoculated cowpox from the hand of Sarah Nelmes into the arm of James Phipps, said to have been aged about eight years. On 12 July 1796 he inoculated Phipps with smallpox, but the smallpox did not have any effect, demonstrating the protective effects of the cowpox.

Wellcome Collection

London

Title

Edward Jenner Vaccinating a Boy

Date

1884

Medium

oil on canvas

Measurements

H 73.1 x W 92.7 cm

Accession number

45436i

Acquisition method

purchased

Work type

Painting

Inscription description

2000"

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Wellcome Collection

183 Euston Road, London, Greater London NW1 2BE England

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