• Breast cancer;
  • Monte Carlo;
  • color appearance;
  • tissue optical properties;
  • art


In 1654, Rembrandt van Rijn painted his famous painting Bathsheba at her Bath. Over the years, the depiction of Bathsheba's left breast and especially the presence of local discoloration, has generated debate on whether Rembrandt's Bathsheba suffered from breast cancer. Historical, medical and artistic arguments appeared to be not sufficient to prove if Bathsheba's model truly suffered from breast cancer. However, the bluish discoloration of the breast is an intriguing aspect from a biomedical optics point of view that might help us ending the old debate. By using Monte Carlo simulations in combination with the retinex theory of color vision, we showed that is highly unlikely that breast cancer results in a local bluish discoloration of the skin as is present on Bathsheba's breast. (© 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)