Monthly Archives: January 2021

The Girl with a Pearl Earring—a vanitas?

James Lindesay Leicester, United Kingdom   Girl with a Pearl Earring. Johannes Vermeer. circa 1665. Mauritshuis. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. It is a truism that you only have one opportunity to see a picture for the first time. However, in our image-saturated age, by the time you get to see a famous painting in […]

Obesity in the Middle Ages: Sancho el Craso

Nicolás Roberto Robles   Badajoz, Spain   Figure 1. Imaginary portrait. Sancho I El Craso. José María Rodríguez de Losada. between circa 1892 and circa 1894. Public domain. Via Wikimedia. “Severe obesity restricts body movements and maneuvers . . . breathing passages become blocked and do not pass good air . . . these patients […]

General Robert E. Lee’s myocardial infarction: did illness impact the Battle of Gettysburg?

Lloyd Klein San Francisco, California, United States   Robert E. Lee in March 1864[?]. Photo by Julian Vannerson. Library of Congress. No known restrictions on publication. Ascribing the loss of the Battle of Gettysburg to an illness of General Robert E. Lee became common among historians thirty years ago. The legend of his apparently poor […]

Medical and other memories of the Cold War and its Iron Curtain

Hugh Tunstall-Pedoe  Dundee, Scotland, UK   Iron Curtain as described by Churchill 1946. Edited from original. Original by BigSteve via Wikimedia. (CC BY 1.0) In 1946, Winston Churchill named the political barrier appearing between the Soviet bloc and the West the “Iron Curtain.” It lasted until 1991. I met or crossed it several times. The […]

The novice

Charles Halsted Davis, California, United States   The Vale of Rest. John Everett Millais. September 1858. Tate Britain. Via Wikimedia  Living in the convent at age eighteen, the novice practiced vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. All she ate was in vain, the more she prayed, the more weight she lost, the weaker she became. […]

The three contraries of Benjamin Franklin: “the gout, the stone and not yet master of all my passions”

James L. Franklin Chicago, Illinois, United States   Fig 1: Portrait of Benjamin Franklin. From a carbonic alloy engraving, drawn by C. N. Cochin 1777, engraved by A.H. Richie. Public Domain. Via Wikimedia  On May 23, 1785, Benjamin Franklin wrote from Passy on the outskirts of Paris to George Whatley that “at Fourscore the three […]

Wellbeing

Sanjana Sundara Raj Sreenath El Paso, Texas, United States   This painting portrays the physical and psychological impact of the pandemic. It captures not only the physical isolation due to social distancing but also feelings of loneliness. The cognitive and mental health after-effects can persist long after recovering from Covid-19. With increased feelings of anxiety, […]

Tobias and the Angel—miracle or medical?

Elizabeth Colledge  Jacksonville, Florida, United States   Tobias and the Angel. Workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio. between circa 1470 and circa 1475. The National Gallery. Via Wikimedia. Admirers of Andrea del Verrocchio’s painting Tobias and the Angel (circa 1470-1475) may be unaware of the purpose of Tobias’s journey with the archangel Raphael. The Book of […]

John Hughlings Jackson

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. John Hughlings Jackson. Selected writings of John Hughlings Jackson: frontispiece. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). “. . . A man among the little band of whom are Aristotle and Newton and Darwin.”  -Gustave I. Schorstein (1863-1906), physician at the London Hospital   The magnitude […]

Battling poverty, injustice, ignorance and fear, and despair

Tonse N. K. Raju Gaithersburg, Maryland, United States   Figure 1: Don Quixote de la Mancha and Sancho Panza (1982), by Maurice D. Pearlman, MD (1915-1985), University of Illinois, Class of 1938. Donated in his memory by his daughter, Martha Pearlman. Assemblage approximately 7’ X 11’. This picture was taken when the statue was on […]