1935 - ?

The Medical Art Society was founded in 1935 when in 1934, several doctors who were attending a British Medical Association meeting in Brighton held a successful exhibition of their own art works. This led to the foundation of the MAS in 1935 for doctor-artists who paid an annual subscription of one guinea a year. Sir Leonard Hill became the first President and other distinguished medical men on the Committee included Geoffrey Bourne and Sir Harold Gillies. It was decided to hold an Annual Exhibition every year of drawings, paintings, etchings, woodcarvings, and sculptures by the members, and this would be followed from 1936 by an Annual Dinner. In 1938 membership of the new MAS had risen to 85 and at the Annual Exhibition, held that year at the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM), when thirty-eight paintings, fifty-seven drawings and four sculptures were shown. During World War II the Society remained dormant but in 1947 it was restarted, and 148 works were shown at the Annual Exhibition. Other activities over succeeding years included winter drawing classes and critiques by distinguished artists and the Exhibitions continued to be successful despite growing financial problems and a drop in membership. In 1967 dental surgeons were invited to join the Society and over the next decade activities were more limited but there was an Exhibition nearly every year and links with similar societies abroad were developed. The Society was fortunate enough to be rescued financially in 1977 by a distinguished member, the Baron ver Heyden de Lancey, who was qualified in medicine, dentistry, and law and keen to promote interaction between the different disciplines as well as being an art collector and amateur painter. He thought that the Medical Art Society should be closely linked to the RSM and to that end left generous annual sums in perpetuity to the RSM for the administration of MAS affairs, and to the MAS for general expenses and for two prizes to be awarded at each Annual Exhibition. His generosity meant that the Society was on a sound financial footing again and membership rose. In 1995 the Royal Society of Medicine opted out of the agreement to provide administerial support and MAS members took on these tasks until 1998 when the RSM again became the 'home base'. Venues for the Exhibitions have varied over the years, being held originally in the RSM but subsequently at the following: Fine Art Society, Walker Art Gallery, Westminster Galleries, Royal London Hospital, Royal College of Pathologists and, from 1980 to 1987 and from 2000 to 2008 at the Mall Galleries but agreement was reached with the RSM to use the Atrium at the end of the academic year. Since 2018 the administration of the MAS has been in the hands of the Hampstead School of Art (HSoA). A tradition of extending the MAS Annual Exhibition by continuing it at the HSoA during the months of August and September started in 2021. The MAS is enjoying an increase in a younger and wider membership.