Religious Paintings and Mental Health

A brief notice in the American Journal of Insanity from January 1856 highlights once again therapeutic importance of ambience especially for treating insanity:

Gift to the Maryland Hospital

A beautiful oil painting has been received at the Maryland Hospital for the Insane, with the following note addressed to the Medical Superintendent:

Baltimore, 27th September, 1855

To John Fonerden, M.D., Maryland Hospital:
A friend of your Institution demise to evince an interest in its success, and hoping for a beneficial effect upon some of your patients, begs the Maryland Hospital to accept the accompanying painting—to be placed as you may deem most advantageous.
It is a copy of. Correggio’s Holy Family, in the Tribune at Florence, painted from the original by Cephas G. Thompson,[1] of Boston, now residing in Rome.
The painting was sent in an appropriate gilt frame, through the house of Sampson Caries & Co. It is now placed on an east wall near the principal entrance into the Hospital. The Medical Superintendent presents the thanks of the Institution to the friend thereof, who has so acceptably and so gracefully evinced an interest in its success.

Correggio’s “Holy Family” that Thompson copied.

There is, unfortunately, no indication whether any patient benefitted from Thompson’s copy of Correggio’s painting that hung on the east wall (a detail that seems oddly specific).

  1. Cephas G. Thomson was, apparently, a moderately successful 19th-century portrait painter from Massachusetts  ↩