New Delhi: Known as both the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns, Spanish romantic painter and printmaker, Francisco Goya was the most important Spanish artist of late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Unfortunately, a severe, albeit undiagnosed illness left him completely deaf in 1793, at the age of 46. Now, 200 years later, scientists may have finally figured out what ailed the famed Spanish painter, which left him bed-ridden for months on end and led to him to lose his hearing.
A team of researchers at the University of Maryland in the US have diagnosed his condition as an autoimmune disease called Susac's syndrome.
Susac's syndrome is a rare condition that causes a person's immune system to attack small blood vessels in the brain, retina and inner ear. Symptoms can include severe headaches, difficulties in thinking, psychiatric problems and loss of vision, balance and hearing.
Goya's condition led him to experience symptoms like, headaches, dizziness, hallucinations, vision problems and ringing in his ears, 'Live Science' reported. Most of these symptoms eventually went away, but the illness left Goya deaf.
Goya's undiagnosed illness led to experts speculating that he had bacterial meningitis or syphilis, or had developed lead poisoning from working with paint.
He "had a certain constellation of symptoms" that gave the researchers clues to a possible diagnosis, said Ronna Hertzano, a surgeon and hearing expert at the University of Maryland.
Susac's syndrome would "explain all of his symptoms" and can leave patients with lasting hearing loss, Hertzano said.
Hertzano said that although syphilis, bacterial meningitis and lead poisoning could all also explain Goya's symptoms, the people who had those conditions in the 18th century usually did not recover the way that Goya did.
(With PTI inputs)