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Sickness and health are not obvious subjects for art, except as incidental accompaniments to military actions and saintly martyrdoms. It was not until the nineteenth century that the horrors of war were deliberately depicted, by painters such as Goya and Turner, and in the twentieth century by the official war artists of First and Second World Wars, and later conflicts.

In the nineteenth century we also find more sentimental depictions of dying children and elderly relatives, intended to affect our emotions, as well as powerful depictions of the sick and poor, supporting movements to improve public health in the cities. The Wellcome Library in London houses an unrivalled collection showing an enormous breadth of illustrations of medical history, operations, sickness and disease.