Medicine: Bruegel & Diagnosis

Writers of doctoral dissertations ransack mightily obscure quarries for old stones to be turned. New-fledged Paris Pathologist Tony-Michel Torrilhon, who did his stone-turning in Europe's art libraries, last week turned in a thesis on the maimed, ailing creatures of the great, earthy 16th century painter, Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Torrilhon's hypothesis: in painting after painting, Bruegel reproduced the maladies of his Low Country peasants with a diagnostician's keen eye.

Some U.S. physicians have already disagreed with Torrilhon's diagnoses, but he has cited enough evidence to make his case fascinatingly arguable (and to nail his M.D. from the University of Paris). In...

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