The Best Doctor


Matthew Greenburgh: Best Doctor

Cut leaf staghorn sumach - Rhus Typhina ‘Laciniata’

124x82cm - edition of 4 plus artist’s proof
62x41cm - edition of 5

The image of a doctor upright over a dying or dead body has been produced by a number of great artists, including Rembrandt - (see the section on "Che Guevara" below) and Goya (opposite). In some cases, such as the Rembrandt, the doctor is a scientific hero, in others, such as the Goya, a destructive fool.

The next picture opposite is by Alfred Kubin (1877-1959) who was known as the Austrian Goya. This is more ambiguous but none the less powerful.

Kubin’s drawings and writing of nightmare visions emanating from the sub-conscious were highly admired by influential contemporaries, including Jung and Kandinsky, around the turn of the 20th century. Although the face of Death as the doctor is horrific, there is enough in Kubin’s picture (eg the calm, religious pose of the dying person, the sensual figure of the doctor and the title itself) to convey the possibility of death as a relief.

My picture follows broadly the geometry of the upright doctor over the prone patient that is common to this genre and is so striking in the Kubin.







Next Leaf


Of what ill will he die?, Francisco Goya, 1799



The Best Doctor, Alfred Kubin, 1903

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