So conclude researchers who have found that old-master sculptors lived longer than painters. They suggest that the physical rigours of sculpting boost the immune system. This might explain why, for example, neither Raphael nor Caravaggio celebrated their fortieth birthday, whereas Donatello and Giovanni Bernini lived into their 80s.Biologist and art enthusiast Phillip Greenspan, of the University of Georgia in Athens, had a brainwave while helping his wife, who is a sculptor. “It is hard work,” he says. “The idea came to me right then — I knew there weren’t many sculptors who died early, but many painters have.”
Greenspan and his colleagues looked at the lifespans of 406 artists, ranging in time from the German sculptor Peter Parler (1330–1399) to the Belgian painter Henri Evenepoel (1872–1899). Lifespans ranged from Titian’s 99 years to sculptor Pierino da Vinci, dead at 23. With an average life of 67.4 years, the 144 sculptors surveyed lived significantly longer than the 262 painters, who averaged 63.6 years of life.