Looking at beautiful art can act as a painkiller

Beauty is truth, the English romantic poet John Keats once wrote, but according to the latest scientific research it is also a painkiller.

Looking at a beautiful piece of art has long been said to have the power to heal emotional wounds but the new research also claims it offers a distraction from physical pain.

The research carried out by the University of Bari in Italy could help vindicate hospitals who are accused of wasting money on art and decor as it suggests a pleasant environment helps patients overcome discomfort and pain.

A team headed by Professor Marina de Tommaso at the Neurophysiopathology Pain Unit asked a group of men and women to pick the 20 paintings they considered most ugly and most beautiful from a selection of 300 works by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Sandro Botticelli.

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