This post will explore how artists have portrayed the pectus excavatum deformity through their art. I find it interesting how this deformity was a subject of one of the world’s most notable artists, like Leonardo da Vinci, who lived on earth.
Looking at these artworks, we can see that this deformity was common even in ancient times.
Egyptian Ancient Relief
The goal of a fascinating 2015 study was to analyze 621 artifacts, including reliefs, sculptures, and paintings from Ancient Egypt, and hopefully discover signs of chest wall deformities. A group made study of medical historians and thoracic surgeons.
One relief became very interesting for the researchers and was delivered for more investigation. It was a relief from Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep mastaba. The relief shows an adult person with a sunken chest wall, representing a pectus excavatum deformity.
The relief dates back to 2400 BC, and reliefs from this period are known to represent details accurately.
The researcher’s goal was to hopefully open up a discussion on the occurrence of pectus excavatum in ancient periods and whether people there tried to treat this deformity.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Drawing
A 1510 drawing by Leonardo da Vinci shows an older adult with pectus excavatum. This was not a mistake and inaccuracy because he was anatomically precise. He created thousands of pages of notes and drawings about the human physique.
Leonardo wanted to understand how the human body functioned and what it consisted of. Clinical anatomists believe that his anatomical work was hundreds of years ahead of his time. Even today, his drawings can help us comprehend the human body.
Peter Adams, a professor of clinical anatomy at Warwick University in the United Kingdom, said that Leonardo’s image is as precise as anything created by scientific artists working nowadays. Leonardo drew precisely what he saw, and he was perfect at that.
Professor Peter Abrahams believes that Leonardo’s work was 300 years ahead of his time. Some of his works were even superior to the works in Gray’s Anatomy reference book of human anatomy published in 1858.
It is believed that his image of pectus excavatum is the second-ever discovered report of deformity.
Jusepe de Ribera
Painter Jusepe de Ribera was the most influential Spanish Baroque painter. His incredible realism work is displayed in masterpieces that included people with bodily deformations.
He painted three portraits in which the sitters had sunken chest deformities. He depicted Saint Jerome and Saint Onuphrius with pectus excavatum.
De Ribera was believed to be aware of the deformity’s existence, mainly because Schenck and Bauhin did the first medical description of the deformation at the end of the 16th century. At the same time, De Ribera’s work was a few decades later.
Christian Schad (1894-1982) was a German painter and photographer. He was a part of the Dada and New Objectivity movements in art. He is mainly known for painting vibrant portraits of the modern men and women of Weimar, Germany.
Agosta & Rasha
His painting Agosta, the Pigeon-Chested Man, and Rasha, the Black Dove, features a naked man on a throne with an obvious concave chest deformity and a black woman wearing a red and white halter-neck top.
The man appears to be highly confident, staring at the viewer downwardly. Christian made this painting in 1929 in Berlin. He was the subject of his artwork at a funfair in Berlin. Agosta was born with a chest wall deformity.
Interestingly, this painting was very connected with developing the New Objectivity style, which consisted of precise realist painting.
Bunny Rogers is an American artist that had an exhibition called “Pectus Excavatum.” The show consisted of a landscape that twists inwardly and outwardly, mountains, deep ocean while revealing the framework of our concept of nature.
Knowledge is linked with imagination. “Pectus Excavatum” was Bunny’s first solo exhibition in an institution in Europe in 2019. I can feel the colors, the vibe, the mysterious ambiance, and the shapes in the exhibition deeply down as a person with a sunken chest.
Kristina Volyk Illustration
Kristina Volyk is an illustrator, a comic who has published a book, an animator, and a content marketer who draws people with different physical features that they request to see themselves in the art world and feel valid and seen.
I enjoy Kristina’s body positivity work. As a person with pectus excavatum who loves art, I felt terrific when I saw Kristina’s illustration of a person with a sunken chest.
Roberto is an artist who goes by the name eurynomos on devianart.com.
He published an artwork of a naked male with a colorful and mysterious ray out of his sternum. His work is called “Pectus Excavatum.”
This powerful, precise, and elegant illustration represents the trapped emotions and feelings coming from the person’s chest. The person is finally free as the tangled feelings are released from his body.
Victor Malloni is a Brazilian 3D artist from Recife, Brazil. He created a 3D model of a body with a pectus excavatum that can rotate 360 degrees. You can check the 3D art here.
Elad Rosen is an artist based in Tel Aviv, Israel. The painting “Pectus Excavatum” is a self-portrait, showing the artist’s chest simplified in a colorful atmosphere. The image is acrylic on canvas and is currently on sale for US$5000 – US$7500.
Franjo Gutierrez is a freelance artist located in Tenerife, Spain. He created a series of illustrations with fighters. One of his fighters, Luchador Dominicano, has an apparent indentation on his chest.
Atlas Sound – Logo Album Cover
Logos is the second studio album by Bradford James Cox, an American singer-songwriter, musician, and lead singer and guitarist of Deerhunter. He was born with the genetic disorder Marfan syndrome.
The pectus excavatum deformity frequently occurs in people with Marfan Syndrome. I believe it is Bradford himself on the album cover of Logos.
KaoKay is an artist from the United States, born in 1996. She likes to use her pectus excavatum deformity to reference her artwork.
Her story inspires many people with sunken chests who are also art fans. I love how every individual has a unique way of expressing themselves and their feelings to the world.
Here’s a famous artwork of a torso with pectus excavatum and protruding ribs from which flowers bloom. It signifies the inner beauty of all people with this deformity, despite the difficulties it brings.
She even shared a YouTube video about the process of her pectus excavatum drawing.
Nahtahliah is an artist from Bolivia, born in 1999. She loves painting, psychology, science, creating melodies, and writing. In 2015, she made a fantastic artwork called “Like a Flower,” showcasing a torso with a sunken chest.
- Pectus excavatum, Victor Malloni [Internet]. ArtStation. 2021 [cited 2023 Jan 30]. Available from: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/aYzg1z
- Białas A, Kaczmarski J, Kozak J, Kempińska-Mirosławska B. Pectus excavatum in relief from Ancient Egypt (dating back to circa 2400 BC). Interactive cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. 2015 Jan 6;20.
- Pectus Excavatum by KaoKay on DeviantArt [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Jan 30]. Available from: https://www.deviantart.com/kaokay/art/Pectus-Excavatum-729591804
- Pectus Excavatum by eurynomos on DeviantArt [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2023 Jan 30]. Available from: https://www.deviantart.com/eurynomos/art/Pectus-Excavatum-340180713
- nwarrior777. NWarrior — About me [Internet]. About me Hello! My name is Kristina Volyk (Кристина Волык), Agender (they/them pronounce), 1997 I am illustrator, comicsist (i have the published book!) a little bit of animator and content maker in… [cited 2023 Jan 30]. Available from: https://nwarrior777.tumblr.com/about
- Elad Rosen | Pectus Excavatum (Self-Portrait) (2015) | Available for Sale | Artsy [Internet]. [cited 2023 Jan 30]. Available from: https://www.artsy.net/artwork/elad-rosen-pectus-excavatum-self-portrait
- About nahtahliah | DeviantArt [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Jan 30]. Available from: https://www.deviantart.com/nahtahliah/about