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January 7, 1998

Interpreting Art and Poetry in JAMA: In the Eye of the Beholder

Author Affiliations

Copyright 1998 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.1998

JAMA. 1998;279(1):19-20. doi:10.1001/jama.279.1.17

To the Editor.—There is a well-substantiated point of view that in the history of European oil painting the depiction of the female nude often served the function of erotic titillation to those who financed the work of artists, ie, gentlemen of the wealthier classes.1 Typically, the viewer looks into the painting from a vantage point that affords the most intimate view of the depicted nude female. The painting by Gervex1 would be an excellent example to make this very argument. The patient is a voluptuous young redhead with a lacy drape barely covering her lower body and hair flowing sensuously off the bed into our view. As Dr Southgate2 points out, the nude woman is the point of this painting; the flock of surgeons is merely the incidental, concrete subject matter.