Mona Lisa's famous smile may have been the result of fatty acids gathered around her eye socket suggesting her high cholesterol levels, according to an Italian medical expert.
Vito Franco, Professor of Pathological Anatomy at the University of Palermo, who has been studying art masterpieces for evidence of disease and illness, alleged some of the world's greatest works of art revealed signs of illness.
"I look at art with a different eye from an art expert, much as a mathematician listens to music in a different way from a music critic," Times Online quoted him as saying.
Professor Franco, who presented his findings at a European congress on human pathology in Florence, said he had found evidence of a range of afflictions in not only aristocrats but also Madonnas, angels and mythical heroes.
The Madonna del Parto by Piero della Francesca appears to have a goitre, or swelling of the thyroid gland, on her neck "typical of people who drank water from a well in certain areas" in medieval times, it was claimed.
Professor Franco also claims that Michelangelo's own ailment, that he diagnoses as kidney stones, seem to come to surface in Raphael's School of Athens where he appears with strangely swollen and knobbly knees.