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Art and Opthalmology: The Impact of Eye Diseases on Painters

Philippe Lanthony

Wayenborgh Publications, 2009

by: Brian Schumacher

Philippe Lanthony is an ophthalmologist working in the color vision laboratory of the Centre Hospitalier National d’Ophtalmologie des Quinze-Vingts in Paris and has authored many papers and books on the relationship between color vision and art.

In Art and Ophthalmology, he goes further afield, drawing off the historical documents he has been gathering for many years to discuss a wide spectrum of eye disorders that can impact an artist, including (but not limited to) refractive errors, dacryocystitis, cataracts, color blindness, and age-related macular degeneration. Each chapter discusses a visual defect and investigates the work of a selection of artists who seem to have suffered from it. A diverse compendium, the book includes snippets of historical documents, Dr. Lanthony’s musings, and reproductions of paintings and drawings. Dr. Lanthony also offers speculative diagnoses of historical artists who suffered from eye problems that were not diagnosed during their lifetimes with modern precision.

“[There] are two kinds of disturbances of the eyes, stemming from two sources – when they have been transferred from light to darkness and when they have been transferred from darkness to light.”
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