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"Dying Slave," Michelangelo // Jörg Bittner Unna, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Michelangelo Likely Had Arthritis, Researchers Say

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"Dying Slave," Michelangelo // Jörg Bittner Unna, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Michelangelo's years of sculpting resulted in many incredible works that are still treasured some 500 years later. They also really took a toll on his hands, according to a recently published paper in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Researchers analyzed portraits of Michelangelo, as well as writings from the artist about the pain he endured late in life. They concluded that while he may have suffered from a host of other illnesses and conditions (including gout and lead poisoning), it is likely that osteoarthritis is what affected the artist's hands.

In explaining their methodology, the authors of the study write that "there are no spectroscopic or X-ray images available, and for this reason, the careful observation of the portraits is the only method available today to interpret hand deformities." There were three oil paintings of the artist—between the ages of 60 and 65—used in the analysis: the first two were painted during his lifetime by Jacopino del Conte and Daniele da Volterra (circa 1535 and 1544, respectively), while the third by Pompeo Caccini was completed in 1595—36 years after Michelangelo's death.

Portrait by Jacopino del Conte // Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

From their study of Michelangelo's left (dominant) hand in each of the paintings, the team writes:

"The portraits show Michelangelo’s hand to be affected by degenerative arthritis, in particular at the trapezius/metacarpal joint level, as well as at the metacarpo/phalangeal joint level, the interphalangeal joint of the thumb, the metacarpo/phalangeal joint and the proximal interphalangeal joint of the index finger levels. These are clear non-inflammatory degenerative changes, which were probably accelerated by prolonged hammering and chiseling... Michelangelo’s difficulties with tasks such as writing may have resulted from stiffness of the thumb and the loss of the ability to abduct, flex and adduct it."

Letters indicate that Michelangelo's symptoms arrived late in life, and in 1552 correspondence with his nephew, he wrote that writing itself caused discomfort. By the time of his death, he could no longer write and only signed his letters.

But even then, Michelangelo continued making art—he was seen hammering up to six days before his death—and that might have actually helped him. Lead author Davide Lazzeri said in a statement: "The diagnosis of osteoarthritis offers one plausible explanation for Michelangelo's loss of dexterity in old age and emphasizes his triumph over infirmity as he persisted in his work until his last days. Indeed the continuous and intense work could have helped Michelangelo to keep the use of his hands for as long as possible."

[h/t Artnet]

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Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
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Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley to Paint His Official Presidential Portrait
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Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Kehinde Wiley, an American artist known for his grand portraits of African-American subjects, has painted Michael Jackson, Ice-T, and The Notorious B.I.G. in his work. Now the artist will have the honor of adding Barack Obama to that list. According to the Smithsonian, the former president has selected Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait, which will hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Wiley’s portraits typically depict black people in powerful poses. Sometimes he models his work after classic paintings, as was the case with "Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps.” The subjects are often dressed in hip-hop-style clothing and placed against decorative backdrops.

Portrait by Kehinde Wiley
"Le Roi a la Chasse"
Kehinde Wiley, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Smithsonian also announced that Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald has been chosen by former first lady Michelle Obama to paint her portrait for the gallery. Like Wiley, Sherald uses her work to challenge stereotypes of African-Americans in art.

“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a press release. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”

The tradition of the president and first lady posing for portraits for the National Portrait Gallery dates back to George H.W. Bush. Both Wiley’s and Sherald’s pieces will be revealed in early 2018 as permanent additions to the gallery in Washington, D.C.

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Made.com
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Art
What the Homes of the Future Will Look Like, According to Kids
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Made.com

Ask a futurist what the house of tomorrow will feature and she might mention automatic appliances and robot assistants. Ask a kid the same question and you’ll get answers that are slightly more creative, but not altogether impractical. That’s what Made.com discovered when they launched Homes of the Future, a project that had kids draw illustrations of futuristic homes that served as the basis for professional 3D renderings.

According to Co.Design, the UK-based furniture retailer recruited children ages 4 to 12 to submit their architectural ideas. The doodles, sketched in pen, marker, and colored pencil, showcase the grade-schoolers' imaginations. Paired with each picture is concept art made with a 3D illustrator that shows what the homes might look like in the real world.

The designs range from colorful and whimsical to coldly realistic. In one blueprint, drawn by Ameen, age 10, a neighborhood of rainbow buildings and flowers float among the clouds. Another sketch by Ellis, age 7, shows a “home built to last” with titanium, bricks, a steel roof, and bulletproof windows. Some kids seemed less concerned with durability than they were with the tastiness of the infrastructure. Cherry-flavored bricks, candy windows, and a giant jelly slide were just some of the features built into the future homes. Sustainability was also a major theme, with solar panels appearing on two of the houses.

Check out the original artwork and the 3D versions of their ideas below.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of Made.com.

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