|Professor Vito Franco studied 100 famous artworks for evidence of disease; he says Mona Lisa exhibits clear signs of xanthelasma (a cholesterol deposit) in the hollow of her left eye and lipoma (a fatty tissue tumor) on her right hand.|
FLORENCE — The Mona Lisa and the new McDonald's in the Louvre's underground mall may have more of a connection than meets the eye. Vito Franco, a professor of Pathological Anatomy at the University of Palermo, believes Leonardo da Vinci's smiling model exhibits telltale signs of high cholesterol. More specifically, the Italian medical expert says the famous lady shows symptoms of a cholesterol deposit in the hollow of her left eye (called xanthelasma) and a fatty tissue tumor on her right hand (known as lipoma).
Professor Franco says he spent about two years analyzing roughly 100 works of art for evidence of disease and illness. He studied masterpieces ranging from Egyptian sculpture to contemporary paintings, with his concentration mainly on Renaissance pieces like the Mona Lisa.
“I look at art with a different eye from an art expert, much as a mathematician listens to music in a different way from a music critic,” Franco told The Times. He presented his findings of afflictions in the various artworks at a recent medical conference in Florence.
Additional diagnoses: in Diego Velázquez's Las Meninas, the Spanish child Margarita likely suffered from both a thyroid condition known as goiter and the genetic disorder linked to premature puberty, McCune-Albright syndrome; the unusually long, thin fingers of the young nobleman in Sandro Botticelli's Portrait of a Young Man indicates that the subject suffered from Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder of the connective tissue; and the swollen knees of Michelangelo, as depicted in the foreground of Raphael's The School of Athens, were likely caused by kidney stones.