Detail of La Malaria (1850-1851), oil on canvas by French artist Antoine Auguste Ernest Hébert (1817-1908), who spent nearly thirty years in Italy, where the light, color and life of Roman streets and countryside captivated him. Hébert became acquainted with malaria, a disease that was widespread in vast areas in Italy, including the Pontine marshes, southeast of Rome. Hébert’s painting conveyed admirably the melancholy of diseased country people and the blurring pestilential environment where they lived. The mala aria (bad air) can be indeed perceived in the painting, one of the best-known works of the artist (see article by PL Alonso, pp. 83-93, this issue, and E. Capanna, in Int. Microbiol. 9:69-74, latest issue).