Tag Archives: Art Flashes

A man with a psychotic disorder by Diego Velazquez

Fernando Espí Forcén Chicago, Illinois, USA   Jester named Don Juan de Austria by Diego Velazquez El Prado Museum, Madrid Source: wikimedia commons During the modern era, kings employed jesters for the entertainment of monarchs and their guests. These jesters were often people with mental illnesses or congenital metabolic diseases. They were payed for their […]

Child’s play and art

Bojana Cokíc Zajecar, Serbia   Childhood is an important time of learning and development. Play is the work of childhood, affecting sensorimotor, cognitive, emotional, moral, and social development.1 Children have always played.3 Throughout history, children’s games have changed with the social environment. In past centuries, children’s play began in the evening, on the street, after girls […]

Illness or Intoxication? Diagnosing a French clown 

Sally Metzler Chicago, Illinois, USA Thomas Couture (1815-1879) The Illness of Pierrot, ca. 1859 The Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas City MO In his day, Thomas Couture was a renowned history painter, though his students would later surpass him in fame – the likes of Edouard Manet and John Lafarge.  Born in the small French town […]

Los Caprichos

De que mal morira (Of what ill will he die?) This is engraving number 40 from the Los Caprichos series by Francisco de Goya, published in 1799 and showing a donkey as a doctor attending a dying man in his bed. The doctor wears a watch to count the patient’s pulse but not a stethoscope because […]

Jan Steen: quack doctors visit lovesick maidens

Like his contemporary Molière, the Dutchman Jan Steen makes fun of quack doctors, often shown in ridiculous costumes visiting young love-sick or pregnant women. In the Lovesick Maiden (Fig.1, Metropolitan Museum) the diagnosis is suggested by the painting of a Cupid above the door, the bed on the right, and the bed-warmer on the lower […]

The tooth pullers

    Gerrit Van Honthorst, 1628, Louvre, Paris. Jan Victors, ca. 1650 M.d Bildenden Kunst, Leipzig. Jan Steen, ca. 1650 check, Mauritshuis, The Hague.  Gerrit Dou, 1630-35, Louvre, Paris.   Having a tooth pulled in the days before the advent of modern anesthesia and dental techniques could turn out to be a pretty ghastly experience. […]

The Terme Boxer’s trauma

Seth Judson Los Angeles, California, United States   Terme Boxer or Boxer at Rest Palazzo Massimo alle Terme The cavernous eyes of the Terme Boxer look at me with the same anguish and exhaustion that has intrigued archaeologists and art historians since the boxer was first unearthed in Rome over a century ago. Experts date […]

Portraits of vision: Sir Joshua Reynolds

Sally Metzler Chicago, Illinois, United States   Fig 1. Joshua Reynolds, Self Portrait, 1788, Royal Collection Trust, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The subject of this portrait wears wiry, diminutive round spectacles, lending a distinctly pedantic flair.  Yet gazing out is none other than Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723 -1792), one of the greatest English painters in […]

Winslow Homer, the eye-surgeon

Water color painting of Winslow Homer entitled Adirondacks Guide ( 1892). Inset: Detail of the guide’s right eye showing the blue iris, black pupil and the corneal blade mark by the artist.   Although the 19th Century American painter Winslow Homer has been hailed as a lover of the land because of his striking watercolors, […]

The plague of ergotism and the grace of God

 Wilson F. Engel Gilbert, Arizona, USA   Detail of a patient suffering from advanced ergotism in the Isenheim Altarpiece Matthias Grünewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece Musée d’Unterlinden, France   Perhaps the best known and least forgettable of all Renaissance art works depicting the graphic effects of disease is Matthias Grünewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece (1506-1515), now in the Musée d’Unterlinden, Colmar.1 […]