Dermatological manifestations in artworks [study]

The painting, by Ragnar Sandberg (1902–1972) entitled Chicken Handler (Hönsskötären , 1937), depicts a farmer and his chickens. Although many may have overlooked the red face-rash that the farmer evidently has, professor Nicolas Kluger of The University of Helsinki | HY-Skin and Allergy Hospital, has not.

“The farmer displays a striking medio‐facial redness located on the nose and the cheeks and that extends to the glabella, under the moustache, and the chin. The rash spares the periorbital area (Fig. 1). To us, the painter has here depicted a facial seborrhoeic dermatitis in his character, possibly associated also with rosacea.”

“We failed to find any previous depiction of seborrhoeic dermatitis in our previous researches or in the medical literature. The redness of the face and nose of the chicken handler here echoes back to the comb and wattles of the roosters. The question whether Ragnar Sandberg painted intentionally a cutaneous facial condition such as seborrhoeic dermatitis remains unanswered.”

See: Seborrhoeic dermatitis in an oil painting at the Gothenburg Museum of Art in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, Volume 34, Issue 7, Feb. 2020.

Note: Professor Kluger also runs Le Dermato tatoué blog. “Dermatology, Tattoos , Art . . .” (in French)

Research research by Martin Gardiner