Preserved painting abilities after a stroke. The case of Paul-Elie Gernez

François Boller, Elena Sinforiani, Anna Mazzucchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In a famous paper published in 1948, the French neurologist Théophile Alajouanine discussed the influence of aphasia on artistic output. He used as examples three artists he had personally examined. They were the musician Maurice Ravel, the writer Valery Larbaud, and a painter whose name was not mentioned. We have now discovered the identity of this painter and therefore present, for the first time, with the permission of his family, an analysis of the works of Paul-Elie Gernez (1888-1948) before and after his cerebral stroke. This painter's ability to produce works of art was not really diminished by his aphasia. However, we do believe that there was a change in his style, which seemed to become less poetic, as though his ability to "invent" had decreased and he had lost some of his spontaneity. This and other published cases strongly suggest that in some artists the effect of cerebral lesions is different from that found in individuals with no artistic training. This difference may be attributable to the presence, in the former, of an expanded cortical representation, secondary to their lifelong formal training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-155
Number of pages5
JournalFunctional Neurology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005


  • History of neurology
  • Neurology and the arts
  • Neuropsychology
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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