Pictures at an Examination
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1951 Purchase Fund, 56.147; Photograph © 2009 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
LA JAPONAISE (CAMILLE MONET IN JAPANESE COSTUME) (1876)
Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926)
In this vibrant portrait, Monet captures his wife in mid- twirl; she is frozen with her neck tilted, her back curved and her arm bent. Such paintings allow prolonged study of the subtleties of the human form in motion. “It’s very helpful when you can look at motion that is stopped,” says Driver, who notes that a keen eye for the nuances of movement and balance is invaluable in a neurological exam, in which a physician must differentiate among slightly different abnormalities. Huntington’s disease, for instance, may cause dancelike gestures that seem to twitch from one muscle to the next, whereas a rarer disorder known as hemiballismus results in violent flinging motions of the arm or leg.