Art and Medicine: My Experience in Madrid

First-year medical student Carlota Rojo Valdemoro; explains us her experience at the “Museo Nacional del Prado”, during a guided visit with the CEU University.

Carlota Rojo Valdemoro. Medical student.
Carlota Rojo Valdemoro. Medical student.

Personally, I was shocked when we were told that we were going to visit El Museo del Prado because I – and the vast majority of the class – could not see the relationship between art and medicine. Sincerely I thought our University organized the trip to help the students to get to know each other better. Even my parents, both doctors and particularly my mother, a lover of art, were curious with the idea that there was something about medicine in a piece of artwork.
We arrived to Madrid on Thursday and had the whole afternoon free – which I have to say, it was a blessing- and first thing Friday morning we visited El Prado.
Once at the museum, our teachers explained a diverse variety of paintings with a brush-stroke of Medicine on them. We saw many paintings by famous artists such as Goya, Velázquez, Juan Carreño de Miranda, Rubens and José de Ribera amongst many others.
During my years at school, I was taught about art in a more historical way. I learned about Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez but I never, ever noticed that there are three different types of diseases going on in that worldwide famous painting.

Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez
Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez

I also learned at school about Las Tres Gracias by Rubens, but did I ever see that detail on the breast of the woman on the right? No, never!.

Las tres gracias by Rubens
Las tres gracias by Rubens

Was I capable of recognizing the arthritis and the half eyebrow missing on Menipo by Velázquez? Obviously not.

Menipo by Diego Velázquez
Menipo by Diego Velázquez

We absorbed so much knowledge and information that I was completely amazed about all the things you can find related to our career in Medicine in paintings; it was mind-blowing. I think all of us would love to repeat the tour and learn about more paintings with pathological backgrounds.

The trip to Madrid gave me a wider perspective about my chosen career and how much it is represented in the art, which I never thought it would be the case.

Thank you all for this great experience.

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