We thoroughly enjoyed reading “A Tale of Two Paintings.” However, the article presents one misleading—although minor—detail; it states that sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward (1830–1910) “created the Ether Monument.”1Although Adams Ward sculpted the Good Samaritan group atop the Monument and the four bas-reliefs on the base, he did not design the Monument. Henry Van Brunt (1836-1903), of the Ware and Van Brunt architectural firm (Boston, MA), is considered the Monument’s architect; the letter he wrote to Adams Ward, asking him to sculpt these pieces, included his early sketch of the Monument.2 

There are, however, other individuals who might have contributed to the Ether Monument’s design. William Ware (1832–1915), Van Brunt’s partner, wrote in the 1866 Harvard Yearbook that his activities included the design of the Ether Monument. It is not certain whether he was referring to himself personally or to his firm with Van Brunt. John La Farge (1835–1910), a painter and friend of Van Brunt, may also have had a hand in designing the Ether Monument. In the 1970s, La Farge’s grandson encountered sketches resembling the Monument and, despite some slight differences between the drawing and the Monument, surmised that his grandfather might have influenced the memorial’s design.2 

*Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts. rortega@bu.edu

Desai SP, Desai MA, Maddi R, Battit GE: A tale of two paintings: Depictions of the first public demonstration of ether anesthesia. Anesthesiology 2007; 106:1046–50
Ortega RA: Written in granite: An illustrated history of the ether monument. Boston, Plexus Management, 2006
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