Maria T. Wishart, 1893 – 1982
All images used with permission of University of Toronto Biomedical Communications Archive
Maria Torrence Wishart was born in Toronto in 1893 into a family of doctors and artists. She pursued art studies extensively in Europe and several schools in the US. She was accepted into the medical illustration program at Johns Hopkins in 1922, and studied for three years under the guidance of Max Brödel, graduating in 1925, along with 14 others.
Maria returned to Toronto, where she established and directed the Medical Art Service Department at the University of Toronto. She was an exceptional illustrator, and mastered the Brödel techniques of carbon dust and pen and ink. She also became adept at sculpture and 3D models.
In 1944, seeing a need for qualified medical illustrators in Canada, Maria established a three-year diploma curriculum in medical illustration at the University of Toronto. The Medical Art Service was renamed the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine, and served a dual role in academics as well as a service unit.
As a charter member of the Association, and one of Nucleus Five, she helped guide the organization from the beginning. Perhaps her most enduring contribution to the AMI was her guidance in developing the guideline Standard for Teaching Departments of Medical Illustration, while she chaired the Council on Education. This guideline established broad standards for academic programs for the schools, and was approved by the American Medical Association in 1956.
The final document contained four specific guidelines: definitions of a qualified medical illustrator (as appropriate for the director and faculty of an academic program); curriculum recommendations, which included courses in anatomy, pathology and physiology (those courses were to be taught within a medical school environment); techniques and principles of design; and a recommendation that programs offer a curriculum of 22 months or longer.
Maria Wishart directed the medical illustration program until her retirement in 1962. She served nine years on the AMI Board of Governors, served as Board Chair in 1949 -50, and in 1951 was elected AMI President. She enjoyed a long happy retirement, and in 1964 she established the Canadian Academy of Medical Illustrators, which later created an award in her honor for excellence in medical illustration.
She died in her ninetieth year in 1982.
Pencil and watercolor
Living Sutures for Ventral Hernia
Living Sutures in Repair of Torn Hip Ligament