Table 1

Summary of famous artists and their rheumatic diseases, clinical features, treatments used, and art style changes.

Artist (Birth–Death), Specialization, Country of BirthAge at Disease Onset, yrsConfirmed (CD) or Presumptive Diagnosis (PD)Potential Differential Diagnosis (PDD)Clinical FeaturesTreatmentContinued to Work After the DiseaseDisease Changed the Artist’s StyleReference, First Author, Yr
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919), painter and sculptor, France25RA (CD)No PDD
  • Severe polyarticular synovitis, deformity on hands, feet, and coxofemoral joint

  • Fixed flexion of knees, destruction and ankylosis of his right shoulder, and ruptures in several extensor tendons of the hands

  • Extraarticular: rheumatoid nodules, pleural effusion, facial paralysis, rheumatoid cachexia, necrosis of the distal phalanges of the fifth finger (vasculitis)

  • Thermal baths

  • Exercises

  • Devices of occupational therapy (orthesis)

  • Purgatives

  • Phenazone

Yes
  • Yes

  • Small and rapid strokes

  • Invented the moving canvas or picture roll

  • More interest in the human body instead of landscapes

  • More vivid colors

Mota, 20121
Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), painter, Germany33RA (PD)Gout
  • Chronic involvement of feet, knees, and hands (symmetrical), complicated by flares

  • Extraarticular: pleuritis

N/AYes
  • Yes

  • Represented joint alterations in his paintings

Appelboom, 19812
Alexej von Jawlensky (1864–1941), painter, Russia65RA (CD)No PDD
  • Feet, knee, ankles, jaw, shoulders, elbows, and cervical spine evolving to hand deformities

  • Complete immobilization due to cervical compression

  • Extraarticular: pleuritis, anemia and dry mouth (possible secondary Sjögren syndrome)

  • Diet (vegetarian, raw food, no milk)

  • Physical therapy

  • Spas

  • Painkillers (pyramidone, phenacetin plus codeine)

  • Gold injections

  • Irradiations (deep radiograph, radium water drinks, radium compresses, and injections)

  • Injections of an unknown drug in and around joints

  • Alternative medicine (homeopathy, herbal medicine, iridology, radiesthesia, tooth extractions, bee venom ointment, spermine injections)

  • Blood transfusions to treat anemia

  • Raw meat plus hydrochloric acid

  • Injections of liver extract

Yes
  • Yes

  • Broader and more carefree application of color and both darker and brighter appearance of the paints

  • Small-sized painting

  • Restricted arm movements forced him to hold the brush with both hands and to move his entire upper body

  • Influence on a series of small meditations

Zeidler, 20113
Raoul Dufy (1877–1953), painter, France55RA (CD)No PDD
  • Polyarthritis

  • ESR 33 mm/h

  • ACTH

  • Cortisone

  • Gold

  • Aspirin

  • Physiotherapy

Yes
  • Yes

  • Reduced size of paintings

  • Plots were less accurate and subjects were restricted to his imagination or what he could contemplate without moving

  • Represented joint alterations in his late paintings

  • Entitled one of his most colorful canvases “La Cortisone”

Castillo-Ojugas, 19924
Paul Klee (1879–1940), painter and poet, Switzerland55SSc after measles or heavy metal toxicity (CD)No PDD
  • Raynaud phenomenon

  • Skin alterations with contractures and ulcerations

  • Fatigue, exhaustion, dysphagia, weight loss, dyspnea

  • Arthritic pain, disability, difficulty in holding paintbrushes

  • Heart failure

  • Medical recommendation of stopping smoking and visit a spa to improve his well-being

  • Medical records were destroyed by a fire at the hospital after his death

  • There is no indication either of how his illness was managed

Yes
  • Yes

  • Simplicity, more intensity, and use of rough materials (e.g., burlap and newspaper)

  • More somber and contracted forms, drawing on black and brown

  • Broad brush strokes, heavy, black crayon-like lines, and dull colors

  • Paintings depicted agonies that he suffered

  • Titles that reflected fear suffering, death, and war

Suter, 20145
Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (1852–1926), architect, Spain66Juvenile RA (PD)Rheumatic fever
  • Arthralgia, mainly involving the ankles

  • Difficulty walking during disease flare

  • Vegetarian diet, plenty of liquid

  • Homeopathic therapy

  • Spa

Yes
  • Yes

  • Influenced his observational power and nature analysis

da Mota, 20126
Manolo Hugué (1872–1945), painter and sculptor, Spain55RA (CD)
  • Polyarthritis

  • Deformity of fingers

  • Diathermia

  • Physical therapy

Yes
  • Yes

  • Partially abandoned sculpture and devoted himself to painting and poetry

Pou, 20117
Antônio Francisco Lisboa “Aleijadinho” (1730–1814), sculptor and architect, Brazil47SSc (PD)
  • Syphilis

  • Leprosy

  • RA

  • Porphyria cutanea tarda

  • Progressive disabling disease with hand deformity (phalanx amputations)

  • Paraplegy

  • Paraparesis

N/AYesN/AAzevedo, 20088
Max Slevogt (1868–1932), painter, Germany27Gout (CD)No PDDArthritis (feet and knees)
  • Bed rest

  • Colchicine, iodite, aminofenazone potassium ointment

  • Vegetarian diet, other dietary measures

  • Multiple spa treatments

Yes
  • Yes

  • Many of his attacks of gouty arthritis are illustrated in drawings that document involvement of feet and knees

Zeidler, 20209
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475–1564), painter, sculptor, poet, and architect, Italy80Gout (PD)
  • Osteoarthritis

  • Saturnine gout

  • Deficiency of hypoxanthineguanine phosphoribosyl transferase

  • Arthritis, tophi

  • Urinary stones (uric acid)

  • Changes in the first carpometacarpal joint

  • Difficulty writing

  • Depression (or bipolar manic-depressive illness)

N/AYes
  • Probably not

  • His articular illness seems to have had little effect on his artistic productivity

  • Some of his paintings mirror his depression as seen in “Jeremiah in the Sistine Chapel”

Pinals, 201510
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (1882–1941), poet and writer, Ireland23ReA or AS (PD)No PDD
  • Recurrent iritis and oligo/polyarthritis

  • Frequented prostitutes several times

  • Dental treatment

  • Iristomy and iridectomy

  • 8 ocular surgeries

  • Poor adhesion to treatments

Yes
  • Yes

  • Written works abound with references to doctors, symptoms, and diseases of all kinds

Ventura, 200811
Barrie Cook (1929–), painter, UK44RA after chronic cadmium exposure from paint and smoking (CD)No PDD
  • RF 149 IU/mL

  • anti-CCP > 500 U/mL

Multiple biologicalsYesN/ACates, 201612
Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571), sculptor and writer, Italy29ReA (PD)
  • Syphilis

  • Malaria

  • Painful ocular inflammation

  • Skin rash

  • Chronic arthritis

  • Back pain

  • History of suspected sexual contact

  • Lignum vitae

  • Mercury (reported to cure syphilis)

YesN/AAnderson, 198913
Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), painter, Germany20RA (PD)No PDDJoint swelling and deformityN/AYes
  • Possibly

  • Discovered own individuality and introduced his portraiture biography into German arts

  • Polyarthritis did not necessarily interfere with his artistic activities

Weisz, 200714
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796–1875), painter, France70Gout (PD)No PDD
  • Podagra; arthritis of right foot or both feet

  • Walking was affected

N/AYes
  • Possibly

  • Portrayed specific anatomic abnormalities in his work (e.g., the hand of the “Gypsy Girl”) representing gout/arthritis

Panush, 199015
Niki de Saint Phalle (1930–2002), painter and sculptor, France50RA (CD)No PDD
  • Erosive RA

  • Positive RF

  • Also suffered from various other diseases: depression, chronic lung disease attributed to polystyrene exposure, selective IgA deficiency

  • Antimalarials

  • Prednisolone

  • Methotrexate

  • Synoviorthesis with yttrium

Yes
  • Yes

  • Reflected anger and violence after disease

Zeidler, 201316
Frida Kahlo (1907–1954), painter, Mexico18Posttraumatic fibromyalgia (PD)
  • Spina bifida

  • Postpolio syndrome

  • Chronic generalized pain and profound fatigue

  • Poliomyelitis

  • Injuries from vehicle accident with 30 orthopedic surgeries; back pain started after accident at 18 yrs

  • Painkillers

  • Orthopedic devices

  • Metal and plaster corset

  • Surgeries

Yes
  • Yes

  • Work is completely influenced by her diseases

  • Anguish and pain are common themes

  • Work reflected both anger and violence as a product of her suffering

Courtney, 201717
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901), painter, FranceBirthPycnodysostosis (PD)
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta

  • Achondroplasia

  • Polyepiphyseal dysplasia

  • Shortness of stature

  • Bone brittleness (fractures in both legs from minor trauma during his childhood)

  • Shortness of hands

  • Craniofacial deformity with absence of knitting of the fontanel and autosomal recessive transmission

N/AYes
  • Yes

  • Physical appearance limitations deeply influenced his artwork

  • Used art as a way to fully express his repressed energy

Appelboom, 198918
Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466–1536), philosopher and scholar, the Netherlands32Pustulotic arthro-osteitis syndrome (PD)
  • Gout

  • Syphilitic arthritis

  • Enteric rheumatism

  • Periods of malaise, of gastrointestinal disturbances, fever with systemic manifestations, spine problems suggestive of spondylitis, pustulotic skin problems suggestive of vasculitis, joint problems typical of arthritis, and chronic osteitis

  • Retroperitoneal fibrosis (secondary to longstanding inflammatory process)

N/AYesN/ADequeker, 199119
Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes (1746–1828), painter, Spain47Susac syndrome
  • Syphilis

  • Malaria

  • Measles

  • Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada disease

  • Vasculitis

  • Plumbism

  • Cinchonism

  • Cerebral arteriosclerosis

  • Mumps encephalitis

  • Cogan syndrome

  • “Noises in his head,” and then total deafness

  • Impairment of vision, difficulty maintaining his balance

  • Eventually recovered his faculties, including his eyesight

  • Electric therapy attempt

  • Sign language

Yes
  • Yes

  • Turned from the pastoral to the horrific

  • Most importantly, he began to draw everyday scenes, from life or from memory

  • One effect of Goya’s deafness on his art was to stimulate him to experiment with new themes and subjects in noncommissioned work

Hertzano, 201920
  • Names in bold are those in which the artist is best known. ACTH: adrenocorticotropic hormone; anti-CCP: anticyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies; AS: ankylosing spondylitis; ESR: erythrocyte sedimentation rate; N/A: not available; RA: rheumatoid arthritis; ReA: reactive arthritis; RF: rheumatoid factor; SSc: systemic sclerosis.