Maria Torrence Wishart


Maria Torrence Wishart (September 6, 1893 – December 30, 1982) was a Canadian medical illustrator and the founder of the University of Toronto's Art as Applied to Medicine program. She was educated at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine under Max Brödel, and in 1925 returned to Canada to found the Department of Medical Art Service in the Faculty of Medicine.

Maria Torrence Wishart
Born(1893-09-06)September 6, 1893
DiedDecember 30, 1982(1982-12-30) (aged 89)
Burial placeMount Pleasant Cemetery
EducationJohns Hopkins School of Medicine
OccupationMedical illustrator

Early life and educationEdit

Wishart was born September 6, 1893 to an affluent family in Edwardian Toronto.[1][2] Her interest in medicine was influenced by her grandfather and father, who were both doctors.[3][4] Wishart's brother, D. E. Staunton Wishart (1888–1958), was also a doctor who taught at the University of Toronto and served as the head of the ear, nose and throat department at the Hospital for Sick Children.[5] After travelling in Europe, she returned to North America with the outbreak of WWI, and studied art in Massachusetts.[1] In 1922 she moved to Baltimore to study with the renowned German medical illustrator Max Brödel in the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.[1] The training in Baltimore emphasized anatomical, pathological, and surgical illustration.[6]


In 1925 after moving back to Toronto, Wishart was appointed as an "artiste" in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.[7][8] She founded, and was the first director of,[9] the Department of Medical Art Service at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.[10][11][12] She was the sole illustrator of all surgical and anatomical work for the first ten years of the service.[12][13] In addition to artwork, Wishart also created wax models of human body parts, produced to scale, to allow for four-dimensional instruction.[4] Dorothy Foster Chubb, another of Max Brödel's students, assisted Wishart as an illustrator from 1931 to 1939, before accepting a position with John C. Boileau Grant as an illustrator for his An Atlas of Anatomy.[13] Chubb was replaced by Eila Hopper-Ross, who worked with Wishart until 1945. [13][14]

In 1945 Wishart founded a three year diploma in medical illustration, the basis for the university's Master of Science in Biomedical Communications program.[12][13] During an 1949 address to the University Women's Club, regarding medical illustration as a career, she explained that in addition to high academic achievement and fine art training "[t]he medical illustrator must be activated by to success by the desire to search for truth."[15]

Wishart retired from the University of Toronto in 1962, succeeded by Nancy Joy.[16] Following her retirement she pursued continuing education courses and worked as a sculptor. She died December 30 1982, at the age of 89 and her body was buried in a family plot at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto.[2][3]


  1. ^ a b c Taylor, Alice (June 17, 2015). "Anatomy of an Illustrator". University of Toronto Magazine. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Maria T Wishart". Find a Grave. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Maria Torronce Wishart: Medical illustrator started U of T course". Globe and Mail. Toronto. 3 January 1983. p. 4.
  4. ^ a b Schrag, Lex (29 October 1949). "Grim, Exacting Artistry Proves Feminine Forte". Globe and Mail. Toronto. p. 15.
  5. ^ "Dr. D. E. S. Wishart: Head of Department For Ear, Nose, Throat". Globe and Mail. Toronto. 10 April 1958. p. 4.
  6. ^ "Art as Applied to Medicine History and Archives".
  7. ^ Shorter, Edward (2013). Partnership for Excellence: Medicine at the University of Toronto and Academic Hospitals. University of Toronto Press. p. 644. ISBN 9781442645950. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  8. ^ Oglov, Linda (15 June 1983). "Medical illustration: from Da Vinci to Telidon". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 128: 1479. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  9. ^ "Medical Artists Discuss Teaching". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. 27 March 1955. p. 7B. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Women Prove Experts As Medical Artists". The Gazette. Montreal, Quebec. CP. 13 December 1949. p. 5. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  11. ^ Robinson, Martha (26 March 1980). "Training a tough grind for medical illustrators". The Vancouver Sun. p. B6. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  12. ^ a b c "Maria Torrence Wishart, 1893-1983 · Making History: contributions of faculty members in science and medicine". Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  13. ^ a b c d "Our History - Master of Science in Biomedical Communications". Master of Science Biomedical Communications. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  14. ^ "Obituary: Eila Ross, medical illustrator, painter". Toronto Star. 16 November 2000. p. B7.
  15. ^ "Sees medical art wide, unusual field for talent". Globe and Mail. Toronto. 26 April 1949. p. 13T.
  16. ^ "Back to results (previous record) Document 16 of 45 (next record) U of T Names New Head Of Biophysics". Globe and Mail. Toronto. 26 September 1962. p. 5. Nancy Joy has been appointed director of the Department of Arts as Applied Medicine and an associate professor. Miss Joy succeeds Professor Maria Wishart, who has retired.

Further readingEdit

Sawchuk, Kim (2017). "Animating the Anatomical Specimen". In Wils, Kaat; de Bont, Raf; Au, Sokhieng (eds.). Bodies Beyond Borders: Moving Anatomies, 1750–1950. Leuven University Press. pp. 276–278. ISBN 9789462700949. Retrieved 25 March 2019.