Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Art Flashes

  • James Ensor’s Bad Doctors

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “Je crois être un peintre d’exception.” (I believe myself to be an exceptional painter.)1– James Ensor The Belgian artist James Ensor (1860–1949) used his paintings as social criticism. He despised the church, courts, judges, lawyers, art critics, civil authorities, and doctors.2 He saw them as self-satisfied members of an elite that ignored…

  • Looking for lice in seventeenth-century art

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “As far as we can ascertain, since man has existed the louse has been his inseparable companion.”1 Bathing, and even washing the hair and the face, were not common practices in seventeenth-century Europe. Children and adults of every social class, from the “the most privileged, to the poorest teemed with lice.”2 Head…

  • Pregnancy and art

    Bojana CokićZajecar, Serbia Pregnancy, the beginning of a new life, was historically uncommon in art. The shape of a pregnant woman does not conform to classical Greek ideals of the female figure, which may have contributed to this rarity. Over time, misconceptions about this necessary, natural phenomenon have changed, and pregnancy has become more common…

  • Martyrs and saints in art, history, and medicine

    The concept of martyrdom has deep roots in religious traditions. Christian martyrs suffered and died for their faith, such as Saint Stephen, who was the first Christian martyr, as well as St. Sebastian pierced with arrows and St. Joan of Arc burned at the stake. In Islam, the term “shahid” refers to persons who died…

  • The gift of the Medici

    Credit for the present status of Florence as a jewel of European art and culture is rarely given to where it is due. Accounts of its history are replete with descriptions of the founder of the Medici’s wealth, Giovanni de’ Bicci; the exploits of Cosimo, pater patriae; the splendor of Lorenzo the Magnificent; and the…

  • The Madonna of Impruneta: Icons and processions

    The Madonna of Impruneta is an icon showing the Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus. Its origins can be traced to the year 1060, when some woodcutters found it in the woods of Tuscany and brought it to the church at Impruneta. According to an alternative version, a man named Biagio coming back from Rome…

  • A WWII artist remembered

    Luciano FiumeCanzo, Italy When Hitler launched his invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, he prevailed on his ally Benito Mussolini to contribute soldiers to sustain his war effort. Three Italian divisions were sent initially and two more in 1942, integrated into the German army fighting in Ukraine and at one stage besieging Odessa. During…

  • Feast or famine: Food in the art of Bruegel

    Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   The Peasant Wedding. Peter Bruegel the Elder, 1566–9. Via Wikimedia.  “Famine was part of everyday life.”1   Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525–1569), one of the most accomplished Netherlandish painters, often used peasant life as his subject. The survival of peasant agricultural society depended entirely on the success of their crops.…

  • The physician’s guide to The Garden of Earthly Delights

    Nora Fisher-CampbellPortland, Oregon, United States I have returned repeatedly to The Garden of Earthly Delights as a strange and fascinating representation of the human experience. The triptych, painted in the late fifteenth to early sixteenth century by Hieronymus Bosch, depicts a fever-dream vision of Eden, Earth, and the Last Judgement.1 On the left panel, God…

  • Painter Milene Pavlović Barili (1909–1945)

    Mirjana Stojkovic-Ivkovic Belgrade, Serbia   Milena Pavlović Barili was one of the most avant-garde and interesting personalities of the world art scene in the first half of the twentieth century. Suffering was inextricably linked to her life. Through suffering, pain, and dreams colored with melancholy, she experienced her own existence and created in solitude. Loneliness,…