A Matter Of Opinion
December 9, 1884
Overall: 21 x 17 1/2 x 12 in. ( 53.3 x 44.5 x 30.5 cm )
signed: proper left top of base: "14 W 12 ST/JOHN ROGERS/NEW YORK" inscribed: top back of base: "PATENTED.DEC.9. 1884." inscribed: front of base: "A MATTER OF OPINION"
This bronze served as the master model for the plasters that Rogers sold to a broad audience of middle-class Americans. Rogers often drew on the common experiences and shared wisdom of his day to connect with his audience. This group offers a gently humorous episode illustrating the popular adage "Who shall decide when doctors disagree and soundest casuists doubt, like you and me?" from Alexander Pope's Moral Essays. An older woman sits between two doctors who are disputing the diagnosis. One holds her wrist, taking her pulse, and explains his view to his colleague, who is indignantly putting on his coat before storming out. The umbrella under his arm has a scowling face carved on its handle that playfully echoes that of its owner, and it appears that in his pique the departing doctor is allowing the other end of the umbrella to poke the patient in the ribs. The woman, however, seems fairly sanguine; she is comfortably seated with a book in hand and fruit on the table at her side. Her head is inclined toward the doctor holding her wrist, suggesting that she has decided between the conflicting diagnoses, much to the consternation of the rejected physician. Contemporary writers were quick to grasp the humor in Rogers' depiction. Several noted that the invalid seemed to be enjoying the little drama playing out around her, and a few pointed out how the two doctors "are substantiating most eloquently by look and action the old adage about the disagreements of medical men."
Articles, Scrapbooks of miscellaneous clippings, etc. about John Rogers, Vol. 4, New York Historical Society. Barck, Dorothy, "Rogers Group in the Museum of the New-York Historical Society," New-York Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. XVI, No. 3, October, 1932, p. 76. Smith, Mrs. and Mrs. Chetwood, Rogers Groups: Thought and Wrought by John Rogers, Boston: Charles E. Goodspeed & Co., 1934, pp.90-1. Wallace, David H., John Rogers, The People's Sculptor, Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1967, pp. 251, 294. Bleier, Paul and Meta, John Rogers Statuary, Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2001, pp. 188-9.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.