Looking Back

Published in Wilmer - Annual Report 2019

How did professors teach students and their physician colleagues about eye diseases in the time before we had the cameras and video technologies of today? In the original planning of the Wilmer Eye Institute, administrators set aside space and funding for a medical artist devoted solely to ophthalmology. Annette Smith Burgess (pictured right, standing) was selected to fill this position in 1926 at the behest of founder William Holland Wilmer.

Over the next several decades, Burgess painted and drew practically all the illustrations that appeared in medical publications covering work and research at the Wilmer Eye Institute. She became the foremost painter of the ocular fundus and a world-renowned ophthalmic artist. Her prolific career as Wilmer’s medical illustrator spanned 35 years until her retirement in the early 1960s.

Today, the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine at Johns Hopkins, where Burgess studied under founding director Max Brödel, celebrates her legacy with an award to honor excellence in ophthalmological illustration.