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Hospital Boston

Image courtesy Historic New England

Print Title:

Massachusetts General Hospital


Construction began on this most imposing granite edifice in 1818 but the building did not accept patients until 1821. Built on the Charles River, the complex also included the Bulfinch-designed private home of Joseph Barrell acquired for use as an insane asylum in 1816. Other versions of this image show patients being unloaded from boats and carried by stretcher up to the hospital.

Print Source:

This print, identified by some scholars and collectors as a probable source for the pattern featured here, has not been fully authenticated. It is included in this exhibit as a possible inspiration for the printed pattern.

This plate first appeared in Snow's History of Boston. Drawn by J. R. Penniman and engraved by Abel Bowen, it is often cited as the source print for Ridgway and other versions. Fenner and Sears released a later version of the Hospital in 1831 drawn by Goodacre that showed a pane glass dome. Neither of those versions indicate the individual blocks of granite shown in the Stevenson and Ridgway versions, nor the sea wall.

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Pattern & Print Source Comparison

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Hospital Boston #1 - R. Stevenson
Ralph Stevenson (& Son)


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Hospital, Boston - Ridgway
John & William Ridgway


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Hospital, Boston #2 - R. Stevenson
Ralph Stevenson (& Son)