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Images in thorax
Pectus excavatum in paintings by Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652)
  1. Davide Lazzeri1,
  2. Fabio Nicoli1,2
  1. 1Department of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, Villa Salaria Clinic, Rome, Italy
  2. 2Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata’, Rome, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Davide Lazzeri, Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, Villa Salaria Clinic, via Filippo Antonio Gualterio, 127, Rome 00139, Italy; davidelazzeri{at}

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The intensity of realism pursued by Caravaggio in contrast with Mannerism was amplified by his followers (“Caravaggisti”); these included the Spanish painter, Jusepe de Ribera, with his tenebristic style as classified by the early biographers.1 Indeed, de Ribera mastered the Caraveggesque chiaroscuro and gained widespread popularity as a result of his lifelike naturalism, becoming the most influential Spanish Baroque painter. He depicted dramatic and sinister scenes of tortured saints with faces contorted in pain, mutilated and ageing bodies adorned with sagging flesh, gruesome martyrdoms and societal outcasts.1

The great realism of de Ribera is shown in masterpieces in which anatomical abnormalities or medical diseases afflicted the sitters. Such works included The Clubfoot (arthrogryposis), The Bearded Woman (endocrinological disease), The Allegory of Touch (blindness) and the drawings of The Grotesque Heads of Men (thyroid goitre). Interestingly, we have …

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