Artibus et Historiae no. 26 (XIII)

1992, ISSN 0391-9064

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FREDERICK HARTT - Michelangelo in Heaven

In an obscure, almost inaccessible part of the Sistine Last Judgment, the American painter Eugene D. Markowski recently discovered a hitherto unsuspected self-portrait of Michelangelo strongly resembling that in his Pieta sculpture in the cathedral of Florence. The image was apparently intended for the artist's private satisfaction alone, in the manner of the self-portraits that appear repeatedly in his early drawings. The discovery lends both weight and an added dimension to the earlier claim by the author of this article that the object in the fresco which had been taken for St. Bartholomew's knife is in reality a sculptor's file used to remove the final "skin" of unfinished marble from statues, as referred to in a poem by Michelangelo. The file, which strips away the marble skin to disclose the living skin of the figure beneath, becomes both the creator of forbidden beauty and the instrument of salvation from sin - a dual function that sheds light on the mystical significance of artistic activity for Michelangelo.

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