Caravaggio, Michelangelo da Merisi

Spanish Empire 1571 - 1610 Spanish Empire (d.39)


Caravaggio immortalized common people with their imperfections intact often as the protagonists in holy drama. This shift from the accepted standard practice and the Classical Idealism (the idealist creation where gods walk with men) was very controversial at the time. His influence became part of the tradition of Revolutionary Realism, dramatized by inner emotions with the use of light which gave way to arcane interpretations as illustrated in the above painting, ‘Martha and Mary Magdalene' also known as The Conversion of the Magdalen’  (alternate title) ca. 1598 which is held in the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The intensity of the conversation between the two sisters is illuminated in Mary’s expression as she twirls the blossom of orange between her fingers. The models featured, Anna Bianchini (Martha) and Fillide Melandroni (Mary), were two well-known courtesans who frequented the palazzi of Del Monte and other wealthy, powerful art patrons.

Chronic arthritis before 1876: early British cases suggesting rheumatoid arthritis

G.0. Storey, M. Comer, D.L. Scott. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 1994; 53: 557-560

Ambiguous and variable terminology is a confusing factor before 1800 and the terms rheumatism, rheumatalgia, rheumatitis, rheumatismus were used indiscriminantly. During the nineteenth century there were even more descriptions of chronic polyarthritis but later in the century these became more recognisable as rheumatoid arthritis.

Evidence suggests that RA is not a modem disease and can be traced back to Sydenham in the 1600s. Its severity may have varied over the last three centuries, with more cases being seen at the end of the 1800s. This is not against an infective origin for RA, an issue reviewed by Silman.  Although cases of RA have always shown considerable heterogenicity, its character may have altered with time in a similar manner to rheumatic fever.