Medicine on the walls of the art gallery

George M Weisz and William R Albury
Med J Aust 2013; 198 (4): . || doi: 10.5694/mja12.11263
Published online: 4 March 2013

Distinguishing medical conditions from artists’ stylistic embellishments can contribute to our historical understanding of diseases like arthritis

When visiting art galleries, one often sees abnormal anatomical features depicted in paintings and sculptures. In the recent Brisbane exhibition of works from the Prado museum in Spain, viewers could find instances of medical conditions in the works of several artists — for example, dwarfism (Velasquez) and club-foot (Ribera), as well as mandibular abnormalities in Hapsburg family members (Titian).1 Here, we report that we have observed what we argue to be pathological changes, albeit subtle ones, depicted in the hands of two portrait subjects in the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

  • George M Weisz1
  • William R Albury2

  • School of Humanities, University of New England, Armidale, NSW.


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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