Dr John Harness (1754-1818) by unknown

Dr John Harness (1754-1818)


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Product details Dr John Harness (1754-1818)

Dr John Harness (1754-1818)


Oval miniature in watercolour on ivory, in a gilt metal oval mount set into a rectangular black wooden backing board, with a suspension ring. A semi-legible inscription on the reverse is in fact: 'Dr Harness, Upper Berkeley Street, Portman Square', his address when elected to the Linnaean Society in February 1809, but from which he resigned in a letter from St Albans in February 1818. He is shown head and part shoulders, looking to his left with a slightly smiling expression, wearing a blue coat with brass buttons and white waistcoat, shirt and neck cloth. His grey hair is worn straight and long over his ears, possibly with a queue behind, and his eyes appear to be grey or hazel. The likeness is well done, though a little rough, perhaps partly from paint deterioration.

Harness was a naval physician and surgeon, born in London on 15 November 1754. He initially trained with his doctor grandfather, John Foote Harness, then finished under Dr Saunders at St George's Hospital and the surgeon, Mr Else, at St Thomas's. He was a young friend of Lord Spencer who suggested he enter naval or army service and in December 1776 was appointed assistant surgeon of the 'Sylph', Captain Richard Dacres, bound for Antigua. Here he transferred to the station flagship 'Portland' and was then appointed assistant surgeon ashore in the naval hospital. In 1778 he was promoted to surgeon by local order. What followed to 1793 is not yet known, but by then he was a surgeon at the Royal Naval Hospital, Haslar, and raising a growing family at Wickham, Hants. In that year he went to the Mediterranean as physician to Admiral Lord Hood's Toulon expedition, during which he pioneered the use of 'citrid acid' (lemon juice) against scurvy. From 1816, when Sir Gilbert Blane

  • Image ref: F9525
  • National Maritime Museum

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