Dec 19, 2018

The eternal beauty of Botticelli's “The Birth of Venus” caused a man to have a heart attack.

The Birth of Venus
Sandro Botticelli
Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Everything that a person could ask for from art can be found at the Uffizi Gallery, the world-class museum in Florence. The lush evocative nature of Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo (1504–06) may send chills down the spine; the intimation of violence in Caravaggio’s Sacrifice of Isaac (c. 1603) is liable to make one gasp; and the world-famous grandeur of Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (c. 1486) is so overwhelming it could give one a heart attack.
Well, let’s not hope for that last thing—you don’t actually want someone to go into cardiac arrest for any reason. Alas, the Daily Mail reports that the beauty of the Botticelli was actually heart-stopping for one man who suffered a heart attack Saturday morning while taking in Birth of Venus. As for a cause, doctors have diagnosed it as a non-scientific condition that is referred to as Stendhal’s Syndrome, which is “defined as dizziness, fainting, hallucinations, and even heart palpitations when seeing something of ‘great beauty,’” as the paper put it.
Rest assured, the unnamed 70-year-old Italian man is doing fine, as there were cardiologists on hand. He was rushed to a local hospital, where he will make a full recovery. Hopefully the next time he sees a work of sublime beauty he won’t have such a life-threateningly passionate reaction.