10 January 2010

A Lesson in Art Appreciation

That face! Those eyes! Those Lipitor!

The New York Times reports that Vito Franco, professor of pathology at the University of Palermo, has diagnosed Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa with high cholesterol. He cites “a subcutaneous accumulation … around her left eye.” And in Franco’s view, it doesn’t matter whether Leonardo himself understood Lisa’s cholesterol problem: “The people depicted tell us about their vulnerable humanity,” the professore told La Stampa, “independently of the awareness of the artist.”

This is fascinating information and, of course, it contributes so much to our understanding and appreciation of one of the masterworks of the Renaissance. Inspired by Franco’s groundbreaking analysis, I sought out a local pathologist, Dr. Tara Biscotet of the Beynes Free Clinic, to ask what other medical conditions may be depicted in famous works of art.

Vermeer: Girl with a Glass of Wine
Yeast infection

Franz Hals: Laughing Cavalier
High blood pressure

Titian: Doge Andrea Gritti

Bronzino: Eleanor of Toledo

Goya: Saturn Devouring His Children
Sleep apnea

Leonardo: John the Baptist
Erectile dysfunction

Caravaggio: Love Triumphant

Velázquez: Infanta Maria Teresa

Botticelli: Birth of Venus

Bosch: Garden of Earthly Delights
Bat-shit crazy


Konrad+Kara said...

Very funny!

You forgot (at least) one. Edvard Munch: The Scream depicting severe malnutrition. Not to mention paranoia, depression, anxiety, take you pick. Or to use the parlance of the day, melancholia.

William V. Madison said...

Yes, and Raphael's Madonna of the Goldfinch, I now learn, features diaper rash (the infant John the Baptist), acid reflux (Mary), colic (Baby Jesus), and avian flu (the goldfinch).

There's really no end of treasures in these old paintings!