Why did the heroes of the paintings in the Prado Museum (almost) never smile?


A tour of some of the Madrid Art Gallery’s most emblematic works reveals a variety of curiosities about oral health throughout history

The Family by Francisco de Goya Painting of Carlos IV
Carlos IV of Goya. family ofPrado National Museum
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A smile Says more than a thousand words? A tour of some of the most emblematic works of Prado National Museum This shows that there have not been great models of smiles from the sixteenth century to the present day. It is not an isolated or incidental event, on the contrary, it hides the answer and unique Doctor of Medicine, Surgery and History Javier Sanz Cerulla explains at a special event organized by the Laboratorio Lesser to mark its 50th anniversary.

Among the more than 2,000 works of art you’ll have to do an extensive search to find one whose teeth can be seen. “Although there have been great masters and the best are represented here, there is a technical difficulty in drawing a good smile and matching eyes”, admits Sainz Cerulla. one of the exceptions is adam (1507), from Albrecht Durere, the most famous artist of the German Renaissance. The pictured smile showed that the model in question had a diastema, a small difference between upper rodents, a condition that occurs in an estimated 20% of people.

Adam, a work by Albrecht Durrey
a work of adam, durreyPrado National Museum

cryptic smilea set of words that fully describe Mona Lisa from Leonardo da Vinci, It is precisely this that has made it a masterpiece recognized worldwide. copy from gioconda (1507–1516), which was painted by a disciple in the Florentine workshop of the Renaissance genius and is on display in the Prado Museum, is the oldest known to date. Although it is believed that it was built in parallel and under the supervision of the guru, it differs from the original in form because the way the smile expression was drawn was the most difficult to capture. “She’s not so naughty,” says doctors in Medicine and Surgery, Dentistry and History.

Oldest known copy of Gioconda on display in the Prado Museum
copy of monalisaPrado National Museum

The smile was directly related to the lower social classes, especially those broad and in which the teeth could be seen. it is reflected Pumpkin Jester (1635-1639) Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez, Both her smile, between the stunned and the beautiful, as well as the pumpkin next to her on the ground, are clear signs of the mental retardation that affected this character. It is the first cleric of Cardinal-Infante don Fernando de Austria, brother of Philip IV, who served the king from 1632 until his death in 1639. In the case of the aristocracy—says Sanz Serrulla—the opposite happened, “they liked to be portrayed seriousness“, which was synonymous with respect, honor and decency.

Jester Calabacillus by Diego Velazquez
Pumpkin JesterPrado National Museum

The selection of pictures also clearly shows the most frequent verbal problems throughout history. An example of this is a picture Carlos IV. family of (1800), in which the way it is appreciated Francisco de Goya y Lucientesdraw the mouth of Maria Louise of Parma That, practically, as a result of multiple pregnancies, she had lost all her teeth. For this reason, the queen had three workers dedicated exclusively to the daily maintenance of her porcelain teeth, says Sanz Serrulla. This problem also forced him to eat alone for a large part of his life: he had to remove his prosthesis to eat and it was not well seen that others could see him in the meantime.

tooth puller (1844), by the Spanish Romantic painter Leonardo Alenza and grandson, is another work that cannot be missed on this tour. It shows an important part of the history of dentistry as a whole. The painting shows the figure of a “dentist” wielding pliers to extract a tooth, which appears to be held in conjunction with a hammer standing on the ground. rudeness of that exercise at that time. “That’s what we’ve been doing for a long time. We didn’t have any tools or knowledge in the profession,” explains the doctor of Medicine and Surgery, Dentistry and History. Miguel de Cervantes also echoed this health issue: “A tooth is better than a diamond,” Don Quixote told Sancho Panza.

The Tooth Puller by Leonardo Alenza
tooth pullerPrado National Museum

This was a very common practice. “Evil is gone” Pain which was very important at the cost of losing something so precious”, explains Sanz Serrulla. In turn, he says, this was a “very profitable” practice because it meant that later it was necessary to have dentures, which “pay very well.” used to do” . Spain, the tooth puller gradually disappears, “when dentistry enters university”. Where to learn the techniques of repairing teeth. “This was only a century ago,” he insisted.

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