Professor Joseph Marshall Flint 1929


¾ Portrait standing, en face, his right arm resting on a block of marble, his left hand hooked in his trouser pocket with his thumb, his head slightly raised, looking away from the viewer into the distance. The sitter wears a three-piece brown suit with a gray tie, a gold watch chain, on his right little finger a signet ring. Background executed in plain grey color, textured only by brushstrokes.

JQAW# P_1929_110
Oil on canvas 136 x 96 cm
Signature: John Quincy Ɑdams 29.
Yale University, USA, Inv. no. 1930.666

Joseph Marshall Flint, 8.7.1872 Chicago to 16.9.1944 Seal Harbor, Maine. Polyglot anatomy and surgery professor with varied interests and activities.
Joseph Marshall Flint was born into a family of Welsh immigrants in Chicago. His father, Francis F., was a builder/contractor who was kept busy after the devastating fire in the city in 1871 and was thus able to provide his son with an education at Ivy League universities. In 1891-1892 Joseph Marshall Flint attended Princeton University, then the University of Chicago, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1895. He remained in Chicago for further studies and published his first scientific paper (Notes on the distribution of Bacillus Colis Communis); in 1896 he matriculated at John Hopkins Medical School, from which he graduated with a MD in 1900. Already during his student years, Joseph Marshall Flint showed a wide variety of interests: At Princeton and Chicago he was a member of the college football teams, and in 1894-1897 he served as head coach of the football teams at Butler University (Indianapolis) and Stevens Point University (Wisconsin). In 1899, John Hopkins University sent two professors (Simon Flexner and Lewellys Barker) to the Philippines to study tropical diseases. They were accompanied by two students: Flint and F.P. Gay. L. Barker and Flint then traveled to India, where they encountered numerous cases of Bubonic plague and described this in a series of scientific publications. After graduating from medical school, Flint continued his education in Germany (Leipzig). In 1901 he went to Chicago, where L. Barker had been appointed professor of anatomy. In 1902 he accepted an appointment as anatomy professor at the University at Berkeley, California, where he served until 1905. During this time he was also a member of the U.S. Marine Hospital Services, specializing in tropical diseases, an activity that paved the way to his later leading role in US military hospitals in Europe during World War I.

The anatomy department at Berkeley was financially supported by philanthropist Phoebe Hearst, née Apperson, widow of mining entrepreneur and U.S. Senator George Hearst (1820-1891) and mother of newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) (she was also the university's first female regent). Flint made the acquaintance of her niece Anne Drusilla Apperson (1878-1970 see her Adams portrait, cross-references) and the couple married on September 15, 1903, at Phoebe's Hearst Hacienda del Pozo de Verona, a 1000 Hectares estate, managed by Anne Drusilla's parents and where she grew up in close contact with her aunt Phoebe and cousin William Randolph. Flint took a sabbatical leave in 1905 to receive training as a surgeon in Europe and he spent 1905 to 1907 in Bonn, Munich, and Vienna. It is not known if Anne Drusilla accompanied him to Europe; she more likely stayed behind in California with her aunt. However, Professor Flint probably already got to know and appreciate John Quincy Adams during his stay in Vienna in 1907 (e.g. through the gynecologist and surgeon Professor Ernst Wertheim, a friend of Adams and whom he portrayed during an operation in 1909, see cross-references).

In 1907 Flint accepted a call to Yale University in New Haven as the John Slade Ely Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine, a position he took in 1908. Yale had previously recruited a Berkeley colleague of Flint's Dr. George Blumer, who served as dean of the Yale medical school in 1910-1920. These appointments pursued the goal of professionalizing medical education at Yale, according to the European model, entrusting teaching to professors with full-time positions and raising the level of training of medical students at dedicated university hospitals. This professionalization, referred to as the "Whole-time System," was a movement that began in America around 1900. Previously, professors were appointed only part-time and spent most of their time in their private practices, and hospital beds that could serve student education and the application of new treatments were also extremely limited, a situation that was extremely unsatisfactory for both teaching and patients. One frustrated patient described the negative consequences of the old system in a poem: "Dr. X doesn't care. Dr. Y isn't there. Dr. Z doesn't dare" (p. 559, A.E. Baue, Yale J Biol Med 51 (1978), 549-563). The implementation of the "whole-time system" at Yale, however, encountered many difficulties despite substantial start-up funding from the General Education Board: The Yale Corporation provided only inadequate funding for the new full-time positions; New Haven Hospital, which was to serve as a university hospital, saw its "charitable mission" threatened by clinical training; and resident physicians (surgeons) saw their influence (and income) waning and reduced patient referrals to the hospital, leading to financial problems. Flint, as anatomist, was also denied competence as a practical surgeon by some. Thus, reform efforts were tenacious and rather frustrating for all involved.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, Flint oriented himself toward new assignments and Europe. In 1913, he became a surgeon at the Arsakelon Military Hospital in Athens, Greece, during the 2nd Balkan War (Greece-Bulgaria), which preceded World War I. In 1915, Flint was back in Europe, serving as head-surgeon at the French Hôpital No. 32b in Passy near Veron. By 1916 he was back in New Haven, but in 1917, after the U.S. entered World War I, he went back to France, where he set up a mobile field hospital, Mobile Hospital No. 39, American Expeditionary Forces, France, a unit that became known as the Yale Unit (funded by Yale and recruited from Yale faculty members, alumni, and Yale students) and that successfully applied the Fordist assembly line system to the efficient treatment of wounded soldiers (treatment times per patient were reduced to 45 minutes). Flint can thus be considered the inventor of the U.S. Army's M.A.S.H. (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) units, which were used in numerous wars from World War 2 to Korea and Yugoslavia and became famous through movies and television series. For his wartime service, Flint received several awards from both the U.S. and French governments (see Awards). Weakened by illness, Flint returned to the United States in 1919. After the resignation of Dean Blumer, Flint also wanted to resign, but postponed his resignation until February 2, 1921, at the request of the Yale president. In addition to the difficulties of implementing the full-time system at Yale and with the New Haven Hospital and his weakened health, a substantial inheritance of his wife, Anne Drusilla, after the death of her aunt, Phoebe Hearst, in 1919, which enabled them both to live financially independently, likely played a role in Flint's resignation as well.

The Flint couple relocated to California, where they took up residence in the inherited castle-like estate of Wyntoon near San Francisco and expanded the property with several structures. Tensions with William Randolph Hearst, who refused to recognize his mother's will, ultimately led to the Flint couple being pressured by Hearst's lawyers to sell the estate to William Randolph Hearst in 1925 for a handsome sum (see also the catalog entry of Anne Drusilla Apperson-Flint). In 1924, the couple applied for passports and embarked for Europe, taking up residence in Switzerland and touring several European countries. Despite weakened health (his lung condition brought home from World War I was compounded by diabetes), Joseph Flint continued to be academically active. In 1931 he wrote an art article on John Quincy Adams in The American Magazine of Art; his last two medical publications appeared in England in 1939. (A complete bibliography of Joseph Marshall Flint does not exist, but his 1945 obituary lists 47 publications in journals over the period 1896 to 1917 alone, see S.C. Harvey, March 1945, Yale J Biol Med 17 (4):503-515. Many of his publications are still considered relevant and are cited today, such as his seminal article "The development of the lungs" Am. J. Anat., 1906, 6:1-137, which is cited by 35 recent papers on ResearchGate). With the outbreak of World War II, the couple returned to the United States and resided on the East Coast. Joseph Marshall Flint died in 1944 at the Flints' summer home in Seal Harbor on Mount Desert Island in Maine, a place where many wealthy émigrés from Europe also resided (including Dr. Alphons Rothschild - see his Adams Portrait- who died in neighboring Bar Harbor in 1942).

Awards Joseph Marshall Flint (according to Prabook biographical encyclopedia):
Officier de l'Instruction Publique, Feb. 17, 1919 (France);
Distinguished Service Medal, March 1, 1919 (USA);
Citation (by General Pershing) for meritorious and conspicuous services, April 19, 1919 (USA);
Chair, medical board, Connecticut Council of National Defense (USA) until 1921;
Fellow, American College of Surgeons (USA);
Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science (USA).

The portrait of Professor Flint is dated 1929 and is a characteristic work of the artist’s late style, in which the background is completely abstract and the main focus is on the character representation of the portrayed person. (Unlike women's portraits, men's portraits no longer allowed for any particular artistic design or variation in the depiction of the now-uniform clothing in the form of the three-piece suit). Adams was particularly successful in capturing this character and personality in the present portrait, which aptly portrays the confident and energetic character of Professor Flint, who was "steeled", so to speak, both by substantial scientific work and by his experiences as a surgeon and field clinic director directly at the front during the First World War. At the same time Adams also painted a portrait of his wife Anne Drusilla Apperson-Flint. The Flint portraits were probably painted either in Europe (Switzerland or Vienna) or possibly also in the USA, although a visit by Adams to New Haven and Yale is documented by sources only for the turn of the year 1930/31. In any case, the portrait of Prof. Flint entered the Yale University collection in 1930 as a gift from his friends and colleagues. Flint also recommended Adams for the 1930/31 portraits of other deserving Yale professors (Harry Burr-Ferres 1930, Lafayette B. Mendel 1931), a commission that subsequently led to numerous other portraits of prominent members of US society, including industrialists, the US Secretary of the Navy, or Senator Reed, among others.

Literature used:
Arthur E. Baue, Joseph Marshall Flint and the Whole-Time System at Yale, The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine 51 (1978), 549-563.
Samuel C. Harvey, Joseph Marshall Flint, The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine 17 (4) (1945), 503-515.
Joseph Marshall Flint '95 Obituary, Princeton Alumni Weekly 10.10.1944
Joseph Marshall Flint, John Quincy Adams of Vienna, The American Magazine of Art 22(1):24-31 (1931).


On permanent display Dean’s Hallway, Yale Medical School, New Haven.


APH, catalog raisonné JQA 1995, p. 231, cat.#198, ill.#133 (B/W).


Purchase from the artist.
1930 gift of friends and colleagues to Yale University, Inv.Nr. 1930.666