In December the H. F. Aitken collection of biomedical art came to the Dittrick and we are in the midst of cataloging and researching this notable body of medical art. The Aitken collection comprises some 2000+ sketches, drawings, paintings, prints, and books from the estate of Hamlet Frederick Aitken (1872 - 1939), an artist and medical illustrator from Massachusetts.
Aitken’s artwork had been packed away in two steamer trunks after his death and consigned to the attic at the family home in Lexington, Massachusetts. John Gilman, now retired from the publishing field, unearthed his grandfather’s material in 2004 and at once appreciated its importance. Aitken collaborated with distinguished surgeons, including Harvey Cushing, and taught medical illustration at Harvard. When John called in Spring 2008 to inquire if the Dittrick might be interested in the Aitken collection, we responded with an enthusiastic Yes!
Needless to say, we are thrilled with this acquisition and look forward to sharing the Aitken collection in exhibitions, web-based presentations, and research projects that will bring the Dittrick and the CIA Biomedical art program into closer collaboration. Maggie Pierce, a CIA student intern, is seen here working with H. F. Aitken drawings. Maggie will be with us through the summer as an intern helping to put the collection in good order.