Men seem to adjust to this genetic disorder more easily than women, as evidenced by the history of the Gonzalez family. Roman art historian Roberto Zapperi (Zapperi reconstructed the varied life of the hirsute man and his family by examining archives, art collections and libraries, and published a book of his findings) believes that "their excessive hair may actually have heightened the appeal of the males in the family, because it created the impression of exceptional virility."
After the death of French King Henry II, the members of the Gonzales family were given to other royal families, where they were gaped at and painted. 4 large paintings of the Gonzales family still hang in ‘Ambras Castle’ near Innsbruck, Austria. The faces of the subjects, offset by white ruffled collars, look like an evil trick of nature. Their bearing gives them the appearance of elegant human beings but the hair covering their faces suggests proximity to the animal kingdom.
After years of being gawked at, Enrico, the eldest son of Petrus Gonzales, managed to trick his master into allowing the family to live quietly in the small village of ‘Capodimonte’ on Lake Bolsena in Italy. He convinced his master ~ Cardinal Odoardo Farnese ~ that he and his family as wild creatures were magically drawn to a life in nature. Farnese, a religious man from Rome, was ultimately unable to resist Enrico's convincing but tall tale of the powers of animal instinct.
In the remote village, inhabited by only a few farmers and fishermen, Enrico brought together the widely dispersed members of his extended family, married healthy women several times and managed to achieve modest wealth as a businessman. His father, Petrus Gonzales, spent the last few years of his life in Enrico's idyllic village and died peacefully at the advanced age of about 80 — the exact date of Petrus Gonzales’s death is unknown but memorials to Gonzales appeared around 1635.
But the fate of the hirsute Gonzalez daughters is more reminiscent of the suffering of "ape woman" Pastrana. Like their father they also lived long lives but theirs was a hidden existence.
Petrus Gonzales (1618)
Petrus Gonzales & his family. From Top Left, clockwise: Petrus Gonzales, his wife, his son, his daughter.