Cranio-facial deformity in the Botticelli’s “Portrait of a Young Man” (NG626)

Francesco Velardi


Proceedings of the 14th International Workshop on Neonatology • Cagliari (Italy) • October 24th-27th, 2018 • The revolution of microbiomics – Nutrition, bacteria and probiotics in perinatal and pediatric health
Guest Editors: Vassilios Fanos (Cagliari, Italy), Egbert Herting (Lübeck, Germany), Moshe Hod (Tel Aviv, Israel), Manuel Sánchez-Luna (Madrid, Spain), Michele Mussap (Cagliari, Italy), Gavino Faa (Cagliari, Italy)


The Author report on the cranio-facial features he observed in the tempera and oil on wood “Portrait of a Young Man” that Sandro di Mariano Filipepi (1445-1510), known as Botticelli, painted in Florence in 1483, presently housed in London, at the National Gallery (NG626). As for the Author opinion, the painting shows a cranio-facial asymmetry associated with a right-convex facial scoliosis. The proposed conjecture is that the young man of Botticelli may exhibit the evidence of the long-term outcome of a mild to moderate non-synostotic cranio-facial deformation. From the clinical point of view, this condition is known as “positional plagiocephaly”. Some questions are raised on the realistic depiction of the facial deformity of the young men. It may be interpreted as an emphatic description of the personal history and character of the sitter. As an alternative, it could represent the individual, deliberated choice of the Painter, who artistically dramatized perspective and proportions to amplify the emotional effect of the portrait. The clinical and functional features of non-synostotic cranio-facial deformations will be discussed, together with the diagnostic criteria, the natural history and the acknowledged treatment protocols to be applied as best practice on real patients.


Botticelli; Portrait of a Young Man; medical diagnosis; cranio-facial asymmetry; facial scoliosis; positional plagiocephaly

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