Mona Lisa Suffered Sky-High Cholesterol
Pathologist identifies sick subjects of the Renaissance
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2010 4:00 AM CST
A subcutaneous accumulation of cholesterol in the hollow of the Mona Lisa's left eye and a fatty tumor in her hand indicate health problems, according to Vito Franco.   (Wikipedia)

(Newser) – Leonardo da Vinci's model for the Mona Lisa was smiling despite some serious health problems, according to an Italian pathologist applying his knowledge to Renaissance painting. Professor Vito Franco of the University of Palermo says a tumor on her hand and apparent buildups of fatty acids around her eyes show that the Mona Lisa had dangerously high levels of cholesterol, the Telegraph reports.

The subjects for Botticelli's Portrait of a Youth and Parmigianino’s Madonna with Long Neck both appear to have suffered from the genetic disorder Marfan syndrome, according to Franco. The models weren't the only sick ones, Franco says: Michelangelo, as depicted in Raphael's The School of Athens, has swollen knees which "appear to indicate an excess of uric acid." This was probably the result of months spent painting the Sistine Chapel while living on only bread and water, the professor says.