Founded in 1751, Pennsylvania Hospital
is the nation's first hospital. The Pine Building, acknowledged
as a fine example of Colonial and Federal period architecture,
is open to the public. For more information, or to schedule
a guided tour, contact us at (215) 829-3370.
Walking tour brochures for self-guided tours are available at
the Welcome Desk. Please enter through the main entrance on
8th Street; the Welcome Desk will be in front of you. Due
to limited quantity, only one brochure will be given for every
three persons in your party.
Christ Healing the Sick in the Temple
This painting of “Christ Healing the Sick in the
Temple” was painted by Benjamin West in 1815.
West, a native Philadelphian, was the historical painter for
King George III and eventually became the president of the Royal
Academy of Arts in London. The Hospital's Board of Managers asked
him to create the painting and donate it to the Hospital in 1800.
West agreed and chose his subject to be "the redeemer of
mankind extending his aid to the afflicted of all ranks and condition."
The painting took 11 years to complete. It caused such a stir
in England, the officers of the British Institution pressured
West into selling it to the proposed National Gallery for 3000
guineas. He did and the painting received the largest sum ever
paid for a modern work at the time. West assured the Pennsylvania
Hospital Board of Managers that he would create a second painting
that would be even better than the first. In the second painting,
he added a "demoniac with his attendant relations" to
pay homage to Pennsylvania Hospital's treatment of the mentally
The painting was delivered to the Hospital in 1817 and was displayed
in a picture house created especially for it. West donated the
painting to the Hospital in the memory of his wife of 53 years,
Elizabeth, who was also a Philadelphia native. It is said that
this was the first piece of fine art available to be seen by
the general population in colonial America. The painting attracted
30,000 visitors during the first 12 months it hung in the picture
house at Pennsylvania Hospital. Admission fees over the next
25 years paid for the picture house and added $15,000 to the
West died at age 82 and is buried in St. Paul's Cathedral, London.
Continue on to The Pine Building