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Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

1 of 7 portraits of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

© National Portrait Gallery, London. Lent by Mrs Jennifer Loehnis, 2013

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Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

by John Singer Sargent
oil on canvas, 1900
33 in. x 26 in. (838 mm x 660 mm)
Lent by Mrs Jennifer Loehnis, 2013
Primary Collection
NPG L254

On display in Room 19 on Floor 2 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), Portrait and landscape painter and muralist. Artist or producer associated with 72 portraits, Sitter in 5 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • 100 Pioneering Women, p. 78 Read entry

    A member of the Kensington Society (formed in 1865), a forum for women’s suffrage and education, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917) was the first woman to qualify in Britain as a physician and surgeon. Inspired by Elizabeth Blackwell, North America’s first woman physician, she gained her medical qualifications as the result of a loophole in the Society of Apothecaries’ entry requirements, which did not bar women, specifically, from their exams. After she passed (in 1865), the Society’s rules were amended to exclude women. Determined then to further her medical credentials, she learnt French in order to attend university in Paris, where she gained an MD (a qualification not recognised by the British Medical Register). In 1872, she founded London’s New Hospital for Women, which was staffed by women (later renamed after her), and where Elizabeth Blackwell was professor of gynaecology. Her ambition, for herself and others, was acknowledged in a parliamentary act of 1876 that allowed women to enter the medical profession. In 1908, she became England’s first woman mayor – of the Suffolk coastal town of Aldeburgh, her childhood home.

  • Lydia Miller; Samira Ahmed, Inspirational Women: Rediscovering stories in Art, Science and Social Reform, 2022, p. 55
  • Rab MacGibbon, National Portrait Gallery: The Collection, p. 78

Events of 1900back to top

Current affairs

The Conservatives return to power, after the Prime Minister Lord Salisbury calls a general election, known as the 'Khaki election', on the back of huge jingoistic support for the Boer War.
The Labour Representation Committee (LRC) is founded from a coalition of socialist groups; they win two seats in the 1900 election and Ramsay Macdonald is appointed secretary. The Labour politician Keir Hardie is also returned to Parliament for Merthyr Tydfilin Wales.

Art and science

German physicist Max Planck proposes the concept of the quantum theory. Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams is published. In the text, Freud outlines his theory of dream analysis, crucial to the study of the unconscious, and introduces key concepts in psychoanalysis, such as the Ego.
The Paris International Exhibition, attended by more than 50 million people and including over 76,000 exhibitors, marks the heyday of Art Nouveau.


In China the Boxer rebellion takes place. The Boxers were anti-imperialist and against foreign influence in trade, religion, politics and technology in the final years of the Manchu rule. The Boxers invade Beijing, killing 230 foreigners and Chinese Christians. The rebellion is suppressed by a multinational coalition of 20,000 troops, with China being forced to pay large war reparations, contributing to growing nationalist resentment against the Qing dynasty.

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