Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa may have had high cholesterol levels as there is clear evidence of xanthelasma, a yellowish collection of fatty acids underneath the skin, around her left eye, an Italian expert has claimed.
According to Prof Vito Franco of Palermo University, there are clear signs of diseases, from bone malformations to kidney stones, suggesting a range of afflictions in one of the world's greatest works of art.
Mona Lisa, a 16th century portrait painted in oil on a poplar panel by da Vinci during the Italian Renaissance, is perhaps the most famous and iconic painting in the world. The work is owned by France and is on the wall in the Louvre in Paris, with the title 'Portrait of Lisa Gherardini'.
Prof Franco, who presented his findings at a European congress on human pathology in Florence, told The Times that he had begun studying art masterpieces for evidence of disease and illness two years ago.
"I look at art with a different eye from art expert, much as a mathematician listens to music in a different way from a music critic," he said.
He said that he had analysed about 100 art works, from Egyptian sculpture to contemporary paintings but his focus was on Old Masters. He found that not only aristocrats but also Madonnas angels and mythical heroes revealed signs of illness.
In fact, Michelangelo's own ailment, which Prof Franco diagnoses as kidney stones, is shown in the Raphael's School of Athens where he appears with strangely swollen and knobbly knees. Michelangelo complained of kidney and bladder problems in his letters and probably suffered from gout.