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When Art Takes Your Breath Away, Literally

Stendhal syndrome or Florence Syndrome, is a condition that causes rapid heartbeat, fainting, dizziness and even confusion. It occurs when an individual is exposed to something of great significance. Often it is associated with people viewing master works of art. Although not officially recognized as a medical condition, people have been claiming they experienced the effects as far back as the 19th century and as recently as 2018. Recently a tourist in Italy suffered from a heart attack while admiring Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. This isn’t the first time the Uffizi Gallery in Florence has had a patron experience symptoms.

Stendhal syndrome was named for the first victim of it, who fell ill after a visit to the Basilica of Santa Croce in 1817. There is a great deal of doubt in the medical community as to the legitimacy of this phenomenon, but those who are afflicted with it have been seriously ill enough to require hospitalization.  The people that work at the Santa Maria Nuova hospital in Florence are very familiar with it, since tourists very often come into the hospital with the symptoms of Stendhal syndrome. Usually, the patients had been visiting masterpieces like the statue of David or the Uffizi gallery.

The definition of the Stendhal syndrome is having an emotional reaction to something visually that produces physical symptoms. While we here at overstockArt don’t want you or your guests to fall ill, we do hope that you find a piece of art that will overwhelm your senses. Our paintings have the real feel and appeal as the originals, but can be brought into any home. Browse through our galleries and find the piece that makes your heart race.

Amanda Hadley

About the Author

Amanda graduated from the University of Kansas, where she studied English literature and got a masters degree in library sciences. She enjoys reading, cooking and playing with her nephews. Her best friend is her little dog Brady.