These 14 prints represent a small sample of the Great Moments in Medicine and Great Moments in Pharmacy series that was produced by the Parke-Davis pharmaceutical company. The entire series consists of 85 paintings done by Robert Thom, who has been described as the ‘Norman Rockwell’ of medicine. Thom began work on the paintings in 1948, with the collaboration of Parke-Davis pharmacist George Bender. The paintings were meant to highlight the outstanding people and moments in medicine and pharmacy and to explain ‘what advances in medicine, throughout the centuries, meant to the better health and welfare of our modern civilization.’ (George Bender, 1951)
The prints were delivered to doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies beginning in 1951. Parke-Davis also released them as magazine advertisements, brochures, and as facsimiles that could be removed from magazines for framing.
The paintings and prints were produced to fit into the Parke-Davis corporate identity and to be used as advertising. They were meant to connect moments of medical and pharmaceutical innovation with the Parke-Davis name. Because of this motivation, Thom and Bender have been criticized for focusing only on single ‘great men’ while ignoring the complexity of medical innovation.
To read more-
Jonathan M. Metzel, MD PhD and Joel D Howell, MD, PhD, “Making History: Lessons from the Great Moments Series of Pharmaceutical Advertisements,” Academic Medicine 79 (2004): 1027
The prints are located in the Health Sciences Library 3rd floor Gallery during the month of June, 2015