August 21, 1987

Ginevra: Turned Left or Right? Leonardo: Straight or Gay?

Author Affiliations

University of Rochester (NY) School of Medicine and Dentistry

University of Rochester (NY) School of Medicine and Dentistry

JAMA. 1987;258(7):912. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400070050028

To the Editor.—  The fascinating article about Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of Ginevra de' Benci1 created an ambiguity—not as intriguing as "Who is the Mona Lisa and why does she look that way?" but of interest to me, because I am a neurologist and also a left-hander, two reasons to try not to get mixed up on rights and lefts.Concerning the young woman in the painting, Dr Crosby comments that "she shares [a little gallery at the National Gallery of Art] with five young men of the Renaissance, all turned to the right. She, in their midst, turns to the left." I contend that she is actively turning to the right. (Note the sharp edge of the contracting left sternocleidomastoid muscle, which accomplishes that act.) Her eyes, which confront the viewer, are also turned—even further than her head—toward her right. (Dull as they are, they might be said