Charles Mitchell (1783–1856) was a naval surgeon. He worked on board the flagship 'Vigo', based on the Atlantic island of St Helena, during the time of Emperor Napoleon’s exile there by the British after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. During his time onboard the 'Vigo', Mitchell was summoned to consult with Napoleon’s physicians, Dr François Carlo Antommarchi, Dr Thomas Shortt and Dr Archibold Arnott, about the Emperor’s deteriorating health. Mitchell did not see Napolean alive, but attended the post-mortem examination and signed the official report. The autopsy concluded that Napolean died of stomach cancer, although some scholars believe him to have been the victim of arsenic poisoning at the hands of the British.
Mitchell retired to the Isle of Wight, where he died aged 73. The portrait was lent to the Royal College of Physicians by J. C. Medley in 1964.
Where to see this painting?
Royal College of Physicians, London
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