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This is one of a pair of paintings (see CWLF 127, 406900) depicting a collector surrounded by his possessions and an physician in his laboratory. Both works consciously perpetuate the tradition of David Teniers, who specialised in alchemists and collector

Objects and paintings illustrating the changing perception and use of medicine

Queen Charlotte

Letter from Queen Charlotte to Lady Charlotte Finch 7 October 1775

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In contrast to the safer practice of vaccination, which was developed at the beginning of the nineteenth century, inoculation carried risks and was often inconsistent in its effects. It entailed giving a healthy individual a mild form of smallpox with the aim of conferring life-long immunity. However, the procedure did not always work, as was the case for two of Queen Charlotte’s children, who would die from smallpox following their inoculation.

This letter from Queen Charlotte to the royal governess, Lady Charlotte Finch, provides insight into the Queen’s decision to inoculate her children against smallpox: her faith in ‘Providence’ to see them through the procedure. Even in the enlightened climate of the eighteenth century, medicine still operated on a providential basis.