Michelangelo "The Hangman" Buonarroti / by Chris Hall

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Self-Portrait

Raphael called him "The Hangman" for his temperament and solitary nature.  Michelangelo “The Hangman” Buonarroti produced some extraordinary work, of which I am sure many of are already familiar . . . these are some details from the Sistine Chapel, depicting scenes from the Bible as well as Christ at the Last Judgment.  I was once fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see the work in person.  I wish I could say that it was an ecstatic moment, but I was immersed in a sea of humanity, all of us blindly bumping into each other and stepping on each other’s toes, for having to look up to the distant ceiling in order to see the work.  But it wasn’t a complete let down; I still got a real sense of the scale and could appreciate the magnitude of Michelangelo’s accomplishment.  By the way, "The Hangman" had a grim sense of humor.  The flayed skin of St. Bartholomew, seen below in the Last Judgment, is a self-portrait.  Also, King Minos the Demon Judge of the Damned, also shown below, is a portrait of Biagio da Cesena, the church official who started a campaign to censor Michelangelo's work for its nudity.  When Cesena complained to the Pope about him being portrayed as a demon, the Pope responded that his "jurisdiction did not extend to hell, so the portrait would have to remain." 

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