Michelangelo’s First Painting

Written on September 9, 2009 by Felicia Appenteng in Arts & Cultures & Societies

As published in the New Yorker

The Crayola scrawl that your mom taped to the refrigerator wasn't as good as the centerpiece of "Michelangelo's First Painting," a show, busy with curatorial paraphernalia, that has been drawing crowds at the Met all summer. But the fulsome presentation of "The Torment of Saint Anthony" (1487-88), painted when the artist was twelve or thirteen, could take you back to parental raptures of "Oh, look! Isn't he wonderful?" The exhaustively authenticated picture copies a German engraving of the time: the glum monk being savaged by gaudy demons in midair, in a mountain landscape. Michelangelo worked hard on it, infrared analysis shows. He gave the monsters piquantly naturalistic nuances, such as accurate fish scales. A flavorful palette, while somewhat out of control, distantly predicts purplish and greenish notes in the Sistine Chapel. But the work, a Gothic goof, is less art than artifact and, in the show, a cult object. The grownup Michelangelo would blench. Soon the painting will be off to its recent purchaser, the Kimbell Art Museum, in Fort Worth. 


No comments yet.

Leave a Comment


We use both our own and third-party cookies to enhance our services and to offer you the content that most suits your preferences by analysing your browsing habits. Your continued use of the site means that you accept these cookies. You may change your settings and obtain more information here. Accept