Chosen by Sheila, a Museum volunteer

About the object

All eight roundels in the Court Room depict significant hospitals (residential charities, not necessarily medical institutions). In common with many, Christ’s Hospital was founded on the site of a former Catholic monastery which was dissolved during the Reformation. Christ’s Hospital, also known as 'The Blue Coat School', was established to care for and educate poor orphans from London, accepting both boys and girls. Like the Foundling Hospital, children would be admitted then sent to the country for foster care, returning to Christ's Hospital around the age of ten. The school still exists, now at a site in Sussex.

Most of the buildings were destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the reconstruction was led by Christopher Wren; it is this building which is shown in the painting. In the background you can see the spire of Christ Church Greyfriars, which Wren also worked on as part of the project.

Donated to the Foundling Hospital by the artist, 1748.

Purchased in 2014 for the Foundling Museum by Peter Brown, Chairman, Coram 1975-90 and Rosemary Brown OBE.

About the artist

Samuel Wale was elected a Governor of the Foundling Hospital in 1746. This one of three painted roundels which he presented to the Hospital in 1748, to form part of the decoration of its Court Room.

Christ’s Hospital, c.1748, Samuel Wale (1721-1786), oil on canvas

Creative responses and inspirations

Read Sheila's additional response to this object here.