, Volume 92, Issue 9, pp 1293-1294
Date: 22 Feb 2013

Michelangelo's John the Baptist and thalassemia

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Dear Editor,

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, more commonly known as Michelangelo, is considered as one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance period. He was a prolific painter, and amongst his masterpieces, The Madonna and Child with St. John and Angels (c. 1497) is particularly highly celebrated as a work of genius. This piece generated much excitement, as it was the first of his works to enter the UK in 1857 at the Art Treasures Exhibition in Manchester (Fig. 1), acquiring the title of ‘The Manchester Madonna’ [1]. It now stands as an unfinished painting in the National Gallery amongst many of his other works.Fig. 1

The Madonna and Child with St. John and Angels (The Manchester Madonna) (c. 1497); tempera on wood, 104.5 × 77 cm; © The National Gallery, London

On studying this piece (Fig. 2), there are stark differences between the child John the Baptist (on the right) where there is a symmetrical, anteriorly protruding forehead noticeably larger in comparison to the Chri ...