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This work is the first of a series of two paintings and shows a 'Young Man Being Lifted from a River, Apparently Drowned'. On the banks of the river the man's wife and children huddle together in despair and disbelief at the sight of the catastrophe. The scene directly relates to the second painting, titled 'His Subsequent Resuscitation by Dr William Hawes', which shows the recovered man sitting up in bed with his jubilant family around him and Dr William Hawes MD (1736–1808) by his side. Dr Hawes was known for his ability to resuscitate people who had apparently died from drowning and other causes of asphyxia. In 1774, Hawes and London surgeon Dr Thomas Cogan (1736–1818) agreed to bring 15 friends each to the Chapter Coffee House in London to form a society especially for the purpose of resuscitating the drowned. At the meeting The Humane Society was formed and Hawes became the Society's Registrar. The inaugural meeting was held on 17 April 1774.
oil on canvas
H 102.5 x W 127.5 cm
purchased from Colnaghi's, 1977