Ether Monument

Monica M. Scanlan

Washington, United States

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Artist's Description

Ether Monument which is located in Boston Public Garden in Boston, Massachusetts USA. Taken 1/16/11.

From Wikepedia:
The Ether Monument also known as The Good Samaritan is a statue and fountain near the northwest corner of Boston’s Public Garden which commemorates the use of ether in anesthesia. Its design has been attributed to the Boston architect William Robert Ware1 and to the sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward.2 It is 40 feet tall and is the oldest monument in the public garden.3

The statue shows a medical doctor in medieval Moorish-Spanish robe and turban who holds the drooping body of an almost naked man on his left knee. The doctor holds in his left hand a cloth, suggesting the use of ether that would be developed in centuries to come.4

The anachronistic use of a Moorish doctor was probably intentional and served to avoid choosing sides in a debate that was raging at the time over who should receive credit for the first use of ether as an anesthetic.3

Before the discovery of the anesthetic properties of ether, one of the greatest dangers of surgery was the likelihood of death resulting from the terrible pain the patient would have to undergo. This monument was dedicated to the great benefit to humanity that resulted from the use of anesthetics.

At the base of the statue are inscriptions explaining the significance of the discovery of the use of ether as an anesthetic. There are four inscriptions:2:

“To commemorate that the inhaling of ether causes insensibility to pain. First proved to the world at the Mass. General Hospital in Boston, October A.D. MDCCCXLVI”.5
“This also cometh forth from the Lord of Hosts which is wonderful and excellent in working. Isaiah.”
“In gratitude for the relief of human suffering by the inhaling of ether a citizen of Boston has erected this monument A.D. MDCCCLXVII.”
“Neither shall there be any more pain. Rev.”
The Biblical quotations are from Isaiah 28:29 and Revelation 21:4.

Massachusetts General Hospital, where this procedure took place, is located about a 15-minute walk from the site of the monument. “The operating theater at MGH where the experiment took place was renamed the ‘Ether Dome.’ It is now a National Historic Landmark.”5 Several books have been written about this specific event.6

Being an outdoor monument in an area with a harsh climate, the structure has needed regular upkeep and repair. “The Ether Monument is located near the intersection of Arlington and Beacon Streets; it was restored and rededicated in 2006.”5

One source of revenue for upkeep of the monument has been income from R. A. Ortega’s Written in Granite: An Illustrated History of the Ether Monument,7 which is available only by making a donation of at least $100 through the Friends of the Public Garden8 which goes to a fund devoted to preserving the monument for the future.9

Nikon D300, Photomatix and finished in Picasa (1 raw image), 200 ISO, handheld, f/9, 70×300 Nikon Lens.

Artwork Comments

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