50 euro – Gerard van Swieten

Series: Austria – Celebrated Physicians of Austria

As his name suggests, van Swieten originated in the Netherlands. The Empress Maria Theresa chose him as her personal physician, but it took two years of cajolery to persuade the reluctant van Swieten to move to Vienna. "I’d rather remain a small republican, than to render slavish service at a princely Court," he insisted. But Maria Theresa also insisted, and in June, 1745, Gerard van Swieten arrived at the Viennese Court. He soon discovered that his position there was anything but that of a slave! The Empress entrusted her Court physician with the reform of medical training and he became the founder of the First Vienna School of Medicine, which was to provide the world with many great doctors and equally great break-throughs in medical science. His legacy to the world of medicine made him the inescapable choice for the first coin in this new gold series "Celebrated Physicians of Austria". This side shows a profile portrait of the great man clasping a book. It is based on a number of contemporary portraits. In the background is the staff of Aesculapius (a staff entwined about by a serpent) as the symbol of this medical series. The reverse is a composite design of the Academy of Sciences, the handwritten text of the reform "Plan pour la faculté de medicine", and a branch of the Swietenia Mahagoni.