Monte Carlo simulations shed light on Bathsheba's suspect breast

Authors

  • Michelle Heijblom,

    Corresponding author
    1. Biomedical Photonic Imaging Group, MIRA Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine, University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, the Netherlands
    2. Center for Breast Care, Medisch Spectrum Twente hospital, P.O. Box 50000, 7500 KA, Enschede, the Netherlands
    • Phone: +31 53 489 3877, Fax: +31 53 489 1105===

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  • Linda M. Meijer,

    1. Biomedical Photonic Imaging Group, MIRA Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine, University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, the Netherlands
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  • Ton G. van Leeuwen,

    1. Biomedical Photonic Imaging Group, MIRA Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine, University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, the Netherlands
    2. Biomedical Engineering and Physics, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, P.O. Box 2270, 1100 DE Amsterdam, the Netherlands
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  • Wiendelt Steenbergen,

    1. Biomedical Photonic Imaging Group, MIRA Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine, University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, the Netherlands
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  • Srirang Manohar

    1. Biomedical Photonic Imaging Group, MIRA Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine, University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, the Netherlands
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Abstract

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)

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