Breast cancer in Woman Sitting Half-Dressed beside a stove (1658) by Rembrandt van Rijn

Andreas G. Nerlich, Johann C. Dewaal, Simon T. Donell, Raffaella Bianucci

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The baroque Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606–1669 CE) was acquainted with pathological modifications of the breast as shown in the canvas Bathsheba at her toilet (1654 CE); his model, Henrijke Stoffels, was depicted with discoloration of the left breast, peau d'orange and distortion of symmetry with axillary fullness. A diagnosis of breast cancer was initally proposed [1] but was later dismissed in favour of cancer mimickers (tuberculous mastitis [2], lactation mastitis following unsuccessful pregnancy [3], Mondor's thrombophlebitis [4]); this was essentially due to Henrjike's long survival (9 years after the depiction) fairly ruling out advanced breast cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-135
Number of pages2
JournalThe Breast
Early online date5 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • 17th century oncology
  • Art and medicine
  • Breast cancer
  • Iconodiagnosis

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