John Allen (1670–1741) was a successful practitioner at Bridgewater, Somerset. He had a considerable reputation as a physician, and wrote a popular book, the 'Synopsis Universae Medicinae Practicae'. This book was first published in 1719 and ran to many editions in England and Europe in the early eighteenth century. The book combined the opinions of earlier physicians on almost all the diseases known at the time, as well as Allen’s own observations, concluding with ‘a curious treatise on all sorts of poisons’.
Allen was a very practical man: he invented and patented a number of useful devices, including an engine designed to ‘raise water by fire’, and a steel-sprung carriage which greatly improved the speed and safety of passenger carriages. In 1730 he presented a book of essays describing his inventions, his 'Specimina Iconographia', to George III.
The portrait was painted by the Anglo-Irish portrait painter, Thomas Frye, in 1739.
Where to see this painting?
Royal College of Physicians, London
11 St Andrew's Place
Regent's Park, London, Greater London, England, NW1 4LE
If you are planning a visit to see this painting, check with the collection first. Paintings can be moved at short notice.