15 Dec, 08 | by Deborah Kirklin
Peter Paul Rubens. Helene Fourment in a fur wrap (Het Pelsken). c.1635. Oil on panel, 176x83 cm. Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum.
Do you ever really look at your patients? I mean really, really, look, so carefully that you’re in danger of making both of you feel uncomfortable? And if you do, do you look with the eye of a medic, seeking to confirm or rule out certain features, or do you look-as an artist might look- with an innocent eye, open to all possibilities and closed to none?
If, like me, you take it for granted that artists have always been better than the average person at seeing what’s actually there, rather than what they are expecting to see, then you might be surprised to read a recent paper in Medical Humanities by Abastado and Chemla which suggests otherwise.