Laterality of expression in portraiture: putting your best cheek forward.
Portraits, both photographic and painted, are often produced with more of one side of the face showing than the other. Typically, the left side of the face is overrepresented, with the head turned slightly to the sitter's right. This leftward bias is weaker for painted male portraits and non-existent for portraits of scientists from the Royal Society. What mechanism might account for this bias? Examination of portraits painted by left- and right-handers and of self-portraits suggests that the bias is not determined by a mechanical preference of the artist or by the viewer's aesthetics. The leftward bias seems to be determined by the sitters and their desire to display the left side of their face, which is controlled by the emotive, right cerebral hemisphere. When we asked people to portray as much emotion as possible when posing for a family portrait, they tended to present the left side of their face. When asked to pose as scientists and avoid portraying emotion, participants tended to present their right side. The motivation to portray emotion, or conceal it, might explain why portraits of males show a reduced leftward bias, and also why portraits of scientists from the Royal Society show no leftward bias. (+info)
Visible signs of illness from the 14th to the 20th century: systematic review of portraits.
OBJECTIVES: To see whether a collection of portraits depicting inhabitants of a defined geographical region and covering several centuries is a useful source for studying the sociocultural significance and epidemiology of particular visible diseases, such as goitre, which is known to have been common in this region. DESIGN: Systematic review of portraits and description of visible signs of illness. SETTING: The Burgerbibliothek (archives of the burghers' community) in Berne, Switzerland. DATA SOURCES: 3615 portraits; 2989 of individuals whose identity is known and 626 of individuals whose identity is unknown. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Visible signs of illness evaluated by means of a standardised visual assessment. RESULTS: Visible signs of illness in portraits were common and appeared in up to 82% (451/553) of paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries. The most common findings were signs of goitre in women and overweight in men. In only the portraits where the neck region could be evaluated, 41% of women with known identities (139/343) had goitre compared with 24% of men with known identities (21/86). The prevalence of goitre was even higher in sitters whose identities were unknown: 63% in men (5/8) and 68% in women (82/121). Overweight in people with known identities was more common in men than in women (30%, 346/1145 v 44%, 811/1844). Overweight was most common in sitters aged >40 than in those aged 40 or younger. Other conditions, such as missing teeth, amputated limbs, or osteoarthritic deformations were surprisingly rare in the portraits under evaluation. CONCLUSIONS: Goitre and other diseases are under-represented in the people depicted in these portraits. Artistic idealisation is a likely explanation for this observation: what was reproduced depended on what was considered pathological or shameful at the time, and therefore depended on age and sex. Stigmatising details may have been omitted. Further, artistic skills and contemporary fashion may have influenced the way in which people were reproduced. People depicted are possibly not representative of the general Bernese population as they constituted a socioeconomically advantaged group. (+info)
The decline of smoking in British portraiture.
OBJECTIVE: To examine time trends in the portrayal of smoking in a national collection of portraiture and to compare this with the similar trends for television and film. METHODS: A compact disc produced by the National Portrait Gallery in London, UK, was systematically searched for artworks produced in the years 1950 to 1999. A "smoking portrayal" in an artwork was defined as having a cigarette, cigar or pipe in the mouth or hand of a named individual. RESULTS: Out of 1063 artworks included in the analysis, 53 portrayed smoking by identifiable individuals (5.0%). The rate of portrayal was highest in the 1950s (10%) and 1960s (11%) and then declined sharply thereafter (p value for trend < 0.00001). Smoking virtually disappeared from portraiture in the 1990s (at 0.6%). The median age of the smokers portrayed was significantly higher in the 1970 to 1999 period when compared to the 1950 to 1969 period. CONCLUSIONS: The decline of smoking in this collection of portraiture is consistent with the decline in smoking in the UK over these decades, but contrasts with trends for increasing smoking portrayal described elsewhere for film and television. (+info)
Female facial attractiveness increases during the fertile phase of the menstrual cycle.
The lack of obvious visible manifestations of ovulation in human females, compared with the prominent sexual swellings of many primates, has led to the idea that human ovulation is concealed. While human ovulation is clearly not advertised to the same extent as in some other species, we show here that both men and women judge photographs of women's faces that were taken in the fertile window of the menstrual cycle as more attractive than photographs taken during the luteal phase. This indicates the existence of visible cues to ovulation in the human face, and is consistent with similar cyclical changes observed for preferences of female body odour. This heightened allure could be an adaptive mechanism for raising a female's relative value in the mating market at the time in the cycle when the probability of conception is at its highest. (+info)
The portrait of Dr William Harvey in the Royal Society since 1683.
A portrait of William Harvey in the Royal Society since 1683 is a copy by an unknown artist after a portrait, now lost, painted by Sir Peter Lely ca. 1650. Three other unattributed copies besides a copy bought from Lely's studio on his death by the Earl of Bradford have been located. The present labelling of the Royal Society portrait should be corrected. (+info)
Rembrandt--aging and sickness: a combined look by plastic surgeons, an art researcher and an internal medicine specialist.
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) left behind the largest collection of self-portraits in the history of art. These portraits were painted over a period of 41 years, using a realistic technique. To evaluate Rembrandt's aging process we studied 25 uncontested Rembrandt oil self-portraits by means of objective and descriptive techniques. By measuring brow position changes through the years, we demonstrated that brow descent started in the second half of the third decade and began to level out in the fourth decade. Based on Rembrandts' aging physiognomy, from age 22 to 63, we believe that Rembrandt did not suffer from temporal arteritis, hypothyroidism, rosacea, or rhynophima and that no other facial signs of systemic diseases are evident, contrary to the opinions expressed by other medical professionals. We suggest that Rembrandt suffered from melancholia or mild depression, and propose the possibility of chronic lead poisoning as a theoretical illness that he might have had. (+info)
U. B. Narayan Rao and the origins of the IJDVL.
Dr. U. B. Narayan Rao L.C.P.S (Bom) (born 23 rd November 1895, died 14 th June 1960) had a busy general practice in Bombay. He adopted dermatology and venereology as his specialty in the 1930's and started the Indian Journal of Venereal Diseases in 1935, the first of its kind in the subcontinent. This journal went on to become the official mouthpiece of the Indian Association of Dermatologists and Venereologists in 1955 and was then known as the Indian Journal of Dermatology and Venereology. Dr. Narayan Rao also played an important role as a founder member of the Bombay Association of Dermato-Venereologists as well as the Indian Association of Dermatologists and Venereologists. Activist, indefatigable worker dedicated to the cause, nationalist, and patriot, generous, dynamic and aggressive, with a flare for arguing; negotiating and convincing, and winning friends in the process, were some of the attributes that may be mentioned of this remarkable person who contributed so much to our specialty. (+info)
Hemoglobin research and the origins of molecular medicine.