Canadian artist, Robert Pope (d.1992), devoted the last years of his short life to documenting his decade-long experience as a patient with Hodgkin's Disease. Shortly after his diagnosis he was influenced by the 1945 autobiographical novel of Elizabeth Smart, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. Pope's early work explored the interconnectedness and pain of individuals bound by an imperfect love, in Smart's case for a married man. After his disease went into remission, he began to paint the patient's perspective on illness, hospitals, visitors, family, and health-care providers in a series of images that suggest the lighting of de la Tour, the photographic immediacy of Doisneau, and the menacing surrealism of de Chirico. His book, Illness and Healing: Images of Cancer (1991), became a bestseller.


In this sensitive and well-illustrated short review of Pope's life and artistic work, the distinguished neurologist and historian, T. Jock Murray, not only sketches the artist's vita, influences, and methods, he also reveals the powerful response that the paintings evoke in him as a physician. With thirty years experience in precisely the kinds of settings that Pope portrayed, Murray discovered that he had "not seen any of these things . . . the way Robert did." Pope's book is given to all incoming medical students at Dalhousie University where Murray served as dean, to invite them to contemplate the otherness of patient experience.


Essay includes 16 illustrations by Pope, 14 in colour; 3 photographs of Pope.


Robert Pope Foundation

Place Published

Box 425, Hantsport, Nova Scotia B0P 1P0



Page Count