Eakins Countdown: 36 Days
We find something on Dr. Gross in volume three of Joseph Jackson’s wonderful Encyclopedia of Philadelphia (1932), nestled between Gripsholm (a 17th century Swedish fort on the Schuylkill) and Grubtown (a less preferred name for the neighborhood of Crescentville):
GROSS, Samuel David—(1805-1884), surgeon, writer on medical subjects, was one of the most distinguished surgeons Philadelphia produced. He was a son of Philip and Johanna Juliana (Brown) Gross, and was born in Forks Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, where his father had a large farm. He was educated at the Academy, Wilkes-Barre, and subsequently entered the office of Joseph K. Swift, of Easton, as a pupil, remaining with is preceptor until he entered the Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, in the class of 1828, and at the same time placed himself as an office pupil under Dr. George McClellan, the founder of the institution, and father of the Union General of that name. After graduation (1828) Dr. Gross set up an office in Philadelphia, and proving unsuccessful, after two years, he went to Easton, and in 1833 established himself in Cincinnati. There he became professor in two medical colleges and after seven years in the Ohioan city, was elected to the chair of surgery in The Louisville (Ky.) Medical Institute. In 1849, he removed to New York but the following year returned to Louisville. In 1856, he was called to Philadelphia to take the chair of surgery in the Jefferson College, and remained Professor of Surgery there until his retirement in 1882.
He was the author of A System of Surgery (1859); Elements of Pathological Anatomy (1839): A Manual of Military Surgery (1861), which in 1874 was translated into Japanese. He was a prolific writer on medical subjects, was connected as contributor with several medical periodicals, and was author of a number of treatises on the subject of anatomy and surgery. He founded the American Surgical Society, and several Philadelphia societies of surgeons and anatomists. In 1876, he presided over the International Congress of Surgeons which convened in Philadelphia. From Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh Universities he received degrees, and on his death bed, the University conferred upon him that of L.L.D. Thomas Eakins painted a portrait of Dr. Gross in the clinical amphitheatre of the Jefferson Medical College, in 1875, one of that artists’ greatest works.
Gross died in 1884, nearly half a century before Jackson wrote these words. What were they saying about Gross while he was alive, before the paint–and the blood–were dry?