Hill, Leonard Erskine (1866-1952) by Scholes, Robert

Leonard Erskine Hill (1866 – 1952) Leonard Hill painted, but he was not primarily a painter. He was a teacher of physiology at the London Hospital and one of his achievements in that field is described in the material below. From Anaesthesia News, No. 168, July 2001 However, in 1897, quite independently, Leonard Erskine Hill (1866–1952) and Harold Leslie Barnard (1868–1908), lecturers at The London Hospital, described in the British Medical Journal a very similar apparatus which consisted of an inflatable armlet, an aneroid manometer and a pump. A copy of their paper is on display and their version of the sphygmomanometer was listed in instrument makers’catalogues for some years. As late as 1924, CG Douglas and JG Priestley, in their textbook Human Physiology, a Practical Course, observed that clinical measurements of the blood pressure ‘have been made possible by the introduction by Riva-Rocci and Leonard Hill of the armlet method.’ Hill did pioneering work on the measurement of intracranial pressure, researched blood pressure changes during sleep and was elected FRS in 1896; he was knighted in 1930. In his later years he worked for the MRC, studying health and the environment. If there were anyjustice, he would be receiving credit equally with Riva-Rocci for the introduction of the non-invasive method of measuring the blood pressure currently in use. He did not exhibit his painting often, but when he did, in 1913, Anthony Ludovici had this to say about it in (14:01:23): The New Age Occasionally, however, very occasionally, a spark of the real love of the thing is to be found in the male amateur, coupled with no mean display of sound knowledge, and then even the modestly low price of the pictures are a cheering spectacle. Let me tell Professor Leonard Hill, now exhibiting his pictures to his friends at The Little Gallery, that I thoroughly enjoyed the fresh, direct, unpretentious charm of his ‘out-of-door sketches. Even their obvious faults had a certain prepossessing candour and naivete about them. I understand that Professor Leonard Hill devotes his time to imparting the principles of physiology to the younger generation. Hence, perhaps, this exuberant joy, this exulting cry iof freedom and good spirits that seems to ring through his pictures. When he has turned his back upon the materialistic facts of his particular faculty, he is out on the shore, on the hills, and among the dunes, painting his own feeling of delight and well-being, and the consequence is that his sketches are both delightful and serene. The two agricultural scenes, painted with water and body colour are particularly good. The rising moon (oil) is also quite pleasing. And the clouds retreating across tlhe sea, with their purple shadow covering whole leagues in a second (oil) makes an excellent study. I would point out to Professor Hill, however, that very often his use of body colour particularly in the skies, constitutes a regret- table blemish. The two pictures–the one of the stubble field with a hill in the distance, and the one of the dunes –are quite spoilt in this way ; particularly the former. Body-colour, it seems to me, cannot be used below a certain degree of brightness, especially in a sky, without producing an effect of heaviness and confusion which is incompatible with clarity of statement. Professor Hill will realise this in an instant, if he has not already done so.

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