National Portrait Gallery: A Picture of Health

NPG 3167; Hugh Owen Thomas by H. Fleury
Hugh Owen Thomas by H. Fleury, c. 1890           National Portrait Gallery            NPG 3167

Victorian bone setter and medical pioneer Hugh Owen Thomas, inventor of the Thomas Splint, and rarely seen without his trademark cigarette which he believed would ward off cholera. Changing times…


The National Portrait Gallery in London houses the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Its online resources for teachers draw on the fascinating stories of the people who shaped British history and culture to enrich learning across the curriculum.

I worked with the Gallery and CogApp to develop A Picture of Health, an interactive timeline of pioneers in medicine, health and social reform. The timeline showcases the Gallery’s unrivalled collection of British medical pioneers and social reformers from the 19th and early 20th centuries, including Joseph Lister, Elizabeth Garret Anderson and the newly acquired portrait of Jesse Boot – founder of Boots the Chemist and famed for making medicines affordable for all. And my own personal favourite – Hugh Owen Thomas.

We created the timeline primarily for GCSE history students and their teachers – and for everyone interested in exploring this fascinating history.

Explore: A Picture of Health