Portrait of a Man

Image credit: Royal College of Physicians, London

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This portrait is traditionally said to be of Alexander Russell (1715–1768), a Scottish-born physician who settled in Aleppo, Turkey. Russell learned the Turkish language so that he could treat Franks, Greeks, Armenians, Jews and Turks, and as a result was treated with respect by his new community, unusual for a foreign settler in non-Christian lands. When he returned to London, Russell gave advice on how to prevent the spread of the bubonic plague that had just broken out in Lisbon. He was elected physician to St Thomas’s Hospital, London, in 1760, where he served until his death in 1768. It is doubted that Russell is the sitter for this portrait. Firstly, the doctor’s features are inconsistent with those in an engraving. Secondly, the age and costume style indicate that the sitter is perhaps 30 years old, too young to be Russell.

Royal College of Physicians, London



Portrait of a Man


late 18th C


oil on canvas


H 76.2 x W 64 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

gift from the Misses Russell, 1958

Work type



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Royal College of Physicians, London

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