Art Essays - Hektoen International

Dear brainstem, you remind me of the Mona Lisa

Serena Yue Hong Kong, China   Left: The Mona Lisa. Leonardo da Vinci, between 1503 and 1506. Louvre Museum. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. Right: Brainstem, ventral view. Designed by erico and edited by 小野 浩雅(ONO, Hiromasa). © 2016 DBCLS TogoTV. CC-BY-4.0. Dear brainstem, You remind me of the Mona Lisa, seated firmly and comfortably atop […]

Gently, Doctor, tell me what you see

Florence Gelo Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States   Girl with a Hand Mirror. William McGregor Paxton, 1915. Courtesy of the Reading Public Museum, Reading, Pennsylvania. In order to emphasize the role of the arts when teaching the humanities in medicine, I have often taken medical students, residents, and doctors to art museums to develop the art […]

Using art to educate about breast cancer

Viney Kirpal India   Step 1: Raise your arm and examine the breast and underarm region. Step 2: Use the flat of your fingers to examine the breast in different positions: while in the shower with soap on your body, while lying down, and while standing in front of a mirror. Step 3: Check for […]

Diagnosing Mona Lisa

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   “Mona Lisa looks as if she has just been sick, or is about to be.” – Noel Coward   Crowd photographing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum. Photo by Victor Grigas, June 25, 2014, on Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0. Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) was a many-talented genius of the […]

The painting of the Good Samaritan in Bracciano Castle

Stephen Martin Thailand   Fig. 1. The Good Samaritan, Bracciano Castle, Lazio, Italy, c. 1600–1610. Photographed by author with curator’s permission to publish in Hektoen International. The Orsini of Bracciano were one of the richest and most powerful aristocratic families in early modern Italy.1 Much of their impressive collection remains in Bracciano Castle, Lazio,2 and […]

The vulnerability of love

Florence Gelo Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States   Breakfast in Bed, Mary Cassatt, 1897, The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Gift of the Virginia Steele Scott Foundation. Courtesy of the Huntington Art Museum, San Marino, California. Via Wikimedia. Public domain. On Thanksgiving Day, I watch my niece Jenn with her seven-month-old daughter Laila playing […]

Traumatic experience and creativity: René Magritte

Mirjana Stojkovic-Ivkovic Belgrade, Serbia   The Lovers. René Magritte, 1928. Fair use. A painter’s creativity often results from artistic inspiration, but it can also be a manifestation of fear, pain, and suffering. René Magritte (1898–1967), a Belgian painter and great figure in modern art, expressed his thoughts and his feelings on the canvas. His unique […]

The wounds of Christ and Prometheus – two of a kind?

Julia van Rosmalen Thomas van Gulik Amsterdam, Netherlands   Fig. 1. Peter Paul Rubens, Prometheus Bound, 1611-1612. The eagle has buried its claws into the face and leg of Prometheus and uses its beak to tear out part of his liver that it has extracted through the right side of his chest. In the lower […]

A detailed depiction of a “crime scene” circa 1455

Daniel Gelfman Indianapolis, Indiana, United States   The use of forensic science to determine the etiology and manner of death has been attempted for millennia. Early autopsies involved inspection of the deceased individual and possibly an internal examination. The performance of autopsies has been greatly influenced by religious and political forces.1 There is a record […]

Ensor’s use of emesis in art

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   James Ensor, Seven Deadly Sins, Gluttony (1904). Royal Library of Belgium, Brussels. Image cropped to plate size. Via Wikimedia The Belgian artist James Ensor (1860-1949) was born to a Belgian mother, Maria Catherina Haegheman, and an English father, James Frederick Ensor. He was born and spent his entire life in […]