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"There will be blood". Differences in the pictorial representation of the arterial spurt of blood in Caravaggio and followers

Authors:
  • "San Giovanni di Dio" Hospital of Gorizia
  • Azienda Sanitaria Bassa Friulana-Isontina, Gorizia, Italy

Abstract

The theme of the beheading of Holofernes by Judith is one of the most frequently painted biblical scenes. Nevertheless, only Caravaggio, Artemisia Gentileschi, Louis Finson and an unknown artist, whose canvas was recently discovered in Toulouse, painted the actual action of beheading. Here we analyse a specific anatomical feature- the arterial spurt of blood- and show a modification in its pictorial representation between the end of the 16th century and beginning of the 17th century. We speculate that the change in trajectory of the arterial spurt of blood from rectilinear to parabolic can be linked to the acquisition of new scientific knowledge: "theory of projectile motion" proposed by Galileo Galilei in ca.1604-1608. We show that newly acquired scientific knowledge is mirrored in the artistic representation of the carotid spurt of blood. Lastly, our reflections may provide new scientific insights into the attribution and timing of the “Toulouse canvas”.
Letter to the Editor
There will be blood. Differences in the pictorial representation of
the arterial spurt of blood in Caravaggio and followers
Keywords:
Blood spurt
Art
Caravaggio
The theme of the beheading of Holofernes by Judith is one of
the most frequently painted biblical scenes [1]. Famous painters such
as Mantegna (14311506), Michelangelo (14751564), Botticelli
(14451510) and Klimt (18621918) depicted the same scene. Never-
theless, only few artists, namely, Caravaggio (15711610), Artemisia
Gentileschi (15931693), Louis Finson (15801617) and an unknown
artist, whose canvas was recently discovered in Toulouse, painted the
actual action of beheading.
Here we analyse a specic anatomical feature the arterial spurt of
blood and show a modication in its pictorialrepresentation between
the end of the 16thcentury and beginningof the 17th century. We spec-
ulate that the change in trajectory of the arterial spurt of blood from
rectilinear to parabolic can be linked to the acquisition of new scientic
knowledge.
Beheading was a recurrent subject in Caravaggio. He painted the
scene vibrantly focusing specically on the facial expression of the
beheaded and on the arterial spurt of blood. In his masterpiece Judith
beheading Holofernes(1599), the trajectory of the spurt of blood is
rectilinear (Fig. 1A).
Artemisia Gentileschi depicted the beheading of Holofernes twice. In
the 1612 painting, no spurt of blood can be discerned whereas, in the sec-
ond canvas (ca. 1620), it follows a parabolic trajectory (Fig. 1B). Similarly,
both Louis Finson (ca. 1607) (Fig. 1C) and the unknown painter of the
Toulouse canvas(Fig. 1D) depicted a parabolic arterial spurt of blood.
According to the theory of projectile motionproposed by Galileo
Galilei (15641642) in ca.16041608 [2,3] whenan object or a particle
European Journal of Internal Medicine xxx (2016) xxxxxx
EJINME-03250; No of Pages 2
Fig. 1. Judithbeheading Holofernes.A. Michelangelo Merisi,named Caravaggio. 1599 (Barberini Palace,Rome, Italy) (pergentile concessionedel Ministerodei Beni e delle Attivita'Culturali e
del Turismo - Gallerie Nazionali di Arte Antica di Roma, Palazzo Barberini). B. Artemisia Gentileschi. ca. 1620 (Ufzi Gallery, Florence, Italy) (Su concessione del Ministero dei Beni e delle
Attivitàculturali e del Turismo). C. Louis Finson. ca. 1607(Collezione IntesaSanpaolo, ZevallosPalace, Neaples, Italy) (per gentile concessione Archivio AttivitàCulturali, Intesa Sanpaolo).
D. Unknown painter. Undated (presently Louvre Museum, Paris, France). (CharlesPlatiau/Reuters/Contrasto)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejim.2016.06.010
0953-6205/© 2016 European Federation of Internal Medicine. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
European Journal of Internal Medicine
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/ejim
Please cite this article as: Perciaccante A, et al, There will be blood. Differences in the pictorial representation of the arterial spurt of blood in
Caravaggio and followers, Eur J Intern Med (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejim.2016.06.010
called a projectile is thrown near the earth's surface, it moves along a
curved path (a parabola) under the action of gravity [3].
When Caravaggio painted Judith beheading Holofernes(1599),
the law of projectile motion had yet to be announced. Therefore, the tra-
jectory ofthe carotid spurt of blood was drawn in a rectilinear way. Con-
versely, in paintings by Gentileschi, Finson and the painter of the
Toulouse canvas, the trajectory was suddenly transformed into a
parabola. Therefore, we hypothesise that, when the latter painters
depicted Judith and Holofernes, they were already familiar with the
theory of projectile motion. From a forensic perspective, variations in
the angle and topographic site of the neck wound made by a blade (at
the carotid site) do not justify a difference in the trajectory of the arterial
spurt [4]. There exists an enduring relationship within science and art
with both testing theories and hypotheses. Here we show that newly
acquired scientic knowledge is mirrored in the artistic representation
of the carotid spurt of blood. Art depicting the evolution of medical
knowledge throughout time represents, in turn, a powerful a guidebook
to physicians (e.g. Leonardo da Vinci's anatomical tables). Lastly, our re-
ections may provide new scientic insights into the attribution and
timing of the Toulouse canvas.
Conict of interest statement
The authors state that they have no conicts of interest.
References
[1] Libro di Giuditta. In: Edimedia, editor. Confe renza Episcopale Italiana La Sac ra
Bibbia;2015[Roma,Italia].
[2] Naylor RH. Galileo's theory of projectile motion. Isis 1980;71(4):55070.
[3] Danerow P, Freudenthal G, MC Laughlin P, Renn J. Exploring the limits of Preclassical
mechanisms. Springer Sciences & Business Media; 2013.
[4] Camana F. Determi ning the area of convergence in bloodstain pattern analysis:
a probabilistic approach. Forensic Sci Int 2013;231(13):1316.
A. Perciaccante
Department of Medicine, San Giovanni di DioHospital, Gorizia, Italy
Corresponding author at: SanGiovannidiDioHospital, Department of
Medicine, via Fatebenefratelli, 34, 34170 Gorizia, Italy.
Tel.: +39 0481 592069; fax: +39 0481 592074.
E-mail address: antonioperciaccante@libero.it.
P. Charlier
Section of Medical and Forensic Anthropology (UVSQ & Paris-Descartes
University EA 4569), Montigny-Le-Bretonneux, France
CASH, Nanterre, France
A. Coralli
Department of Surgery, San Giovanni decollato AndosillaHospital,
Civita Castellana, Italy
R. Bianucci
Department of Public Health and Pediatric Sciences, Legal Medicine Section,
University of Turin, Italy
UMR 7268, Laboratoire d'Anthropologie Bio-culturelle, Droit, Etique &
Santé (Adés), Faculté de Médecine de Marseille, France
8 June 2016
Available online xxxx
2Letter to the Editor
Please cite this article as: Perciaccante A, et al, There will be blood. Differences in the pictorial representation of the arterial spurt of blood in
Caravaggio and followers, Eur J Intern Med (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejim.2016.06.010
... Framing the analysis of the paintings in a historical context, the authors determined that there was a change in trajectory of the arterial spurt of blood, and that the change aligned with Galileo Galilei's theory of projectile motion proposed in c.1604-1608. Perciaccante et al. [61] concluded that "newly acquired scientific knowledge is mirrored in the artistic representation of the carotid spurt of blood" (p. e47). ...
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... A previous study about the medical aspects of these painting has been realized: Perciaccante et al. analyzed a specific anatomical featurethe arterial spurt of blood and showed a modification in its pictorial representation between the end of the 16th century and beginning of the 17th century. They speculated that the change in trajectory of the arterial spurt of blood from rectilinear to parabolic can be linked to the acquisition of new scientific knowledge (Perciaccante et al., 2016). ...
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Judith is a female character in the Bible, the Old Testament who was able to free her occupied city by killing Holofernes, the Assyrian general. This narration has been the subject of numerous works of art throughout history. One of the most important and most controversial example of this collection are the works by Artemisia Gentileschi, female painter of the Baroque era. The painter has four approved versions of it in her repertoire, and the Florentines version is the main focus point in present paper. Present study aims to analysis and compare visual narrations of such theme in various works of several painters and works of Artemisia based on their historical context. One of this painters is Caravaggio whom Artemisia is his fallower. The question that arises is: in comparison to other painters, how Artemisia`s gender and her life`s events affected her choice and expression of such subject? Despite the solidarity of the story, the results indicated that besides stylistic and historical circumstances, other factors including gender and author`s biography have been effective in formation of her Florentine version; Especially considering the fact that this subject is considered among the power and heroines subject`s category.
Article
Full-text available
Judith is a female character in the Bible, the Old Testament who was able to free her occupied city by killing Holofernes, the Assyrian general. This narration has been the subject of numerous works of art throughout history. One of the most important and most controversial example of this collection are the works by Artemisia Gentileschi, female painter of the Baroque era. The painter has four approved versions of it in her repertoire, and the Florentines version is the main focus point in present paper. Present study aims to analysis and compare visual narrations of such theme in various works of several painters and works of Artemisia based on their historical context. One of this painters is Caravaggio whom Artemisia is his fallower. The question that arises is: in comparison to other painters, how Artemisia`s gender and her life`s events affected her choice and expression of such subject? Despite the solidarity of the story, the results indicated that besides stylistic and historical circumstances, other factors including gender and author`s biography have been effective in formation of her Florentine version; Especially considering the fact that this subject is considered among the power and heroines subject`s category.
Chapter
Classical mechanics indeed has its origin in the 17th century. The period we have studied here is not merely a prelude to the Scientific Revolution but an essential part of it. In the three studies presented here, we have tried to illuminate some aspects of these origins, in particular, the question of what it means for classical mechanics to originate. However, contrary to the widespread view that at least Galileo crossed the borderline between medieval and modern scientific thinking, we have tried to show in the preceding chapters that this period of science was in fact still deeply rooted in medieval traditions. Although in the problems and results we can clearly identify constitutive elements of classical mechanics, the arguments and derivations are still based on the conceptual tools of medieval natural philosophy. Even Galileo’s most celebrated achievements turn out to have been obtained by twisting and squeezing a patchwork of inadequate traditional concepts. However, the specific uses of these tools and the knowledge produced cannot be imagined as outcomes of medieval scholarship.
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A complete procedure for identifying the area of convergence of blood drops originated from a single static source is presented. Both for bloodstains lying on a horizontal and on a vertical plane a complete study is developed, based on error analysis and on an opportunely defined joint probability density for the orientation of the horizontal projections of the trajectories of the drops. The method generates a probabilistic map for the area of convergence, directly linking the angles of impact, and their uncertainties, to the projection on the ground of the point of origin. One of the objectives consists in providing a statistical definition of area of convergence, extending to this topic the mathematical accuracy of the calculation of the angle of impact in bloodstain pattern analysis (BPA).
San Giovanni di Dio" Hospital, Gorizia, Italy Corresponding author atSan Giovanni di Dio" Hospital, Department of Medicine, via Fatebenefratelli
  • A Perciaccante Department
  • Medicine
A. Perciaccante Department of Medicine, "San Giovanni di Dio" Hospital, Gorizia, Italy Corresponding author at: "San Giovanni di Dio" Hospital, Department of Medicine, via Fatebenefratelli, 34, 34170 Gorizia, Italy. Tel.: +39 0481 592069; fax: +39 0481 592074. E-mail address: antonioperciaccante@libero.it.
Coralli Department of SurgerySan Giovanni decollato-Andosilla" Hospital, Civita Castellana, Italy R. Bianucci Department of Public Health and Pediatric Sciences, Legal Medicine Section
  • Le-Bretonneux France
  • Cash Nanterre
  • A France
P. Charlier Section of Medical and Forensic Anthropology (UVSQ & Paris-Descartes University EA 4569), Montigny-Le-Bretonneux, France CASH, Nanterre, France A. Coralli Department of Surgery, "San Giovanni decollato-Andosilla" Hospital, Civita Castellana, Italy R. Bianucci Department of Public Health and Pediatric Sciences, Legal Medicine Section, University of Turin, Italy UMR 7268, Laboratoire d'Anthropologie Bio-culturelle, Droit, Etique & Santé (Adés), Faculté de Médecine de Marseille, France 8 June 2016
  • Giuditta Libro Di
Libro di Giuditta. In: Edimedia, editor. Conferenza Episcopale Italiana "La Sacra Bibbia"; 2015 [Roma, Italia].
Exploring the limits of Preclassical mechanisms.
  • Danerow P.
  • Freudenthal G.
  • MC Laughlin P.
  • Renn J.
Danerow P, Freudenthal G, MC Laughlin P, Renn J. Exploring the limits of Preclassical mechanisms. Springer Sciences & Business Media; 2013.
San Giovanni di Dio" Hospital, Department of Medicine, via Fatebenefratelli
  • A Perciaccante
A. Perciaccante Department of Medicine, "San Giovanni di Dio" Hospital, Gorizia, Italy Corresponding author at: "San Giovanni di Dio" Hospital, Department of Medicine, via Fatebenefratelli, 34, 34170 Gorizia, Italy.