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The Adoration of the Magi


The painting (in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence) has been studied from a clinical dermatological point of view. (C. Marchetti, E. Panconesi, Leonardo da Vinci: beauty or human suffering in..- PDF 1527 Kb )

There is evidence of a series of very suggestive minute figures and signs of pathological conditions, including common cutaneous lesions. These figures and lesions are mostly 'hidden' and become visible only by close, attentive observation of specific points extrapolated from the vision of this magnificent picture as a whole. Possible clinical interpretations are attributed to the 'lesions' evidenced, with the conviction that they were portrayed consciously by Leonardo and that they represent a confirmation of his extraordinary capacity for observation and ability to reproduce faithfully that which he saw, including the obvious signs of diseases which it is known he had ample occasion to observe. In this painting, as in others, Leonardo presents the horrors of lire and sickness manifestly and skillfulIy disguised behind the mantle of beauty. We wonder if the monks who had commissioned the painting and then refused to take it did not recognize the ugly truth under the beautiful surface representation.