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Michaelangelo is famous for having successfully interpreted the human body. His great achievement is that of the painting of David whose hands reach out as a sign of human capability and potential. It is assumed that the time he lived was ripe for exchange of knowledge, development in science and matured enough to advance the horizon of investigation in all fields. Renaissance humanism stressed on a serious rethink on the nature of art that focussed on a accurate details. In painting and sculpture, artists focussed on not so casual but verifiable and minute details. Michaelangelo’s paintings are no exception to it. In a study published in the journal of the Royal Society of medicine, a group of surgeons are of the opinion that the great master was “afflicted by an illness involving his joints”. They have used his portraits as evidence to argue their view.  During his life, he complained of what he felt to be ‘gout’. Later he complained of his sore and stiff hands which the doctors would find to be natural for someone who was engaged in handmade art. The doctors found corroboration of those claims in portraits of the artist that show a hanging left hand with both degenerative and non-degenerative changes. They attribute the pain not just to arthritis, but to the stress of hammering and chiselling and note that though the master was seen hammering days before his death at an old age, he did not write or sign his own letters before his death. In recent times there have been attempts to diagnose famous artists with diseases that were not known during their time. This practice has raised many questions, especially on the issue of ethics in research. It is also inferred from authentic analysis that Michaelangelo persisted in his work until his last days. This theory would emphasize that his artistic subject defined his physical infirmities.

What generalisations do people subscribe to?

  1. Establishing facts by $DNA$ tests
  2. Inferring the essence of character from famous people’s handwriting
  3. Carbon dating of the hair of celebrities to draw conclusion on their physical structure
  4. To retroactively diagnose famous artists and public figures of conditions that were not prevalent during their time
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