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Views & Reviews Medical Classics

A Grotesque Old Woman

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 22 July 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b2940
  1. Christopher Cook, foundation year 1, North Central Thames Foundation School, London Deanery
  1. christopher.cook{at}

    Hanging in the National Gallery, London, is A Grotesque Old Woman, by Quienen Massys, contrasting starkly with the images of youth and beauty that otherwise dominated the Renaissance. The painting always attracts attention and is one of the most popular in the gallery. A favourite of art historians and casual observers alike, this iconic image may even have inspired Leonardo da Vinci, although it is now widely accepted that Massys copied da Vinci. The old woman has spawned several impersonations, such as the illustrator John Tenniel’s …

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