Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue
Joseph Lister, Baron Lister (1827-1912), Surgeon and founder of a system of antiseptic surgery
In his prime, around the 1860s, Lister’s
features commonly had a placid, contemplative, serious expression which easily relaxed into a smile in the course of conversation. In personal appearance he was of average height and somewhat slender build; he did not use eyeglasses; his hair, which was abundant and dark in colour, was generally worn rather long; except for small whiskers he was clean-shaven. Both in manner and in speech he was uniformly gentle, sympathetic, and totally free from abruptness, affectation, or self-assertion. 
The poet William Ernest Henley, a patient at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary 1873–5, described Lister’s appearance on the hospital rounds, in a sonnet that included these lines:
His brow spreads large and placid, and his eye,
Is deep and bright, with steady looks that still.
Soft lines of tranquil thought his face fulfill –
His face at once benign and proud and shy… 
St Clair Thomson, a medical student at King’s College London and later Lister’s house surgeon and friend, described him thus: ‘He was nearly six feet in height, upright, well knit, compactly built, deep chested. His bearing was dignified and his manner always restrained, ever courteous and constantly considerate. His voice was soft and musical, but a trifling hesitation in his speech had persisted from childhood.’ 
Footnotesback to top
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