Easter Greetings with Michelangelo

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Happy Easter greetings from BAU International Academy of Rome

In this period the Christian world is getting ready to celebrate the other most important step of Jesus Christ's life together with the nativity, which is his resurrection to the eternity of God, body and soul.

Not everybody knows that resurrection to the heavens with a new eternal body (not subject anymore to the corruption of death) is possible according to the Christian credo, for all human souls at the end of times, with the Last judgement. This topic has been represented by many artists, being the most controversial the fresco painted by Michelangelo in the XVI century.

Michelangelo’s Last Judgement covers the whole altar wall of the Sistine Chapel with a vortex of rising and descending human souls judged by Christ. It seems that here Michelangelo added his self-portrait in the empty envelope of the skin that hangs grotesquely from the hand of St. Bartholomew. (the saint who was skinned alive) revealing the depth of his concept of resurrection, which at the end of the day  needs “a change of skin” to gain the eternal life. 

On a preview visit with Pope Paul III, before the work was complete, his Master of Ceremonies Biagio Da Cesena criticized the many nude figures depicted by Michelangelo, and judged the fresco more appropriate for public baths and taverns, rather than for a papal chapel. Michelangelo at that point worked Cesena's face into the scene as Minos, judge of the underworld, with donkey ears indicating the foolishness of his criticism, while his nudity is covered by a coiled snake. It is said that when Cesena complained to the Pope, the pontiff joked that his jurisdiction did not extend to Hell, so the portrait would have to remain.

By the way, after the work was complete, Pope Paul III was pressured several times to alter if not entirely remove the Last Judgement from the wall of the Chapel, and this querelle continued until 1563, when finally after the decision of the Council of Trent and most probably after the death of Michelangelo, the genitalia in the fresco were painted over with drapery by Daniele da Volterra, who for this got the nickname "Il Braghettone", i.e. "the breeches maker"!

As a matter of fact after death resurrection of human body and soul into a new eternal body...is indeed a very hard topic to represent and explain. We can’t help but admiring after 500 years the art and the effort of Michelangelo to combine faith in the Christian hope of the body resurrection with the appreciation of the human beauty, which in the fragility of the body hides its divine power.

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Back to Renaissance - Lesson #2

Our lessons from Renaissance continue this week with another extract of the beautiful research made by Eric Weiner to prove that “Renaissance Florence Was a Better Model for Innovation than Silicon Valley Is” …

In-fact, not many people acknowledge that… MENTORS MATTER

“In today’s culture, we tend to value youth over experience and have little patience for old-fashioned learning models. Ambitious young entrepreneurs want to tear down the corner office, not take lessons from the people in it. However, the experience of innovators in Renaissance Florence suggests this is a mistake. Some of the greatest names in art and literature willingly paid their dues, studying their craft at the feet of the masters. Leonardo da Vinci spent a full decade — considerably longer than was customary — apprenticing at a Florentine bottega, or workshop, run by a man named Andrea del Verrocchio. A good artist but a better businessman, Verrocchio surely spotted the burgeoning genius in the young artist from an “illegitimate” family, but he nonetheless insisted Leonardo start on the bottom rung like everyone else, sweeping floors and cleaning chicken cages. (The eggs were used to make tempera paint before the advent of oil.) Gradually, Verrocchio gave his charge greater responsibility, even permitting him to paint portions of his own artwork. Why did Leonardo stay an apprentice for so long? He could easily have found work elsewhere, but he clearly valued the experience he acquired in the dusty, chaotic workshop. Too often, modern-day mentoring programs, public or private, are lip service. They must instead, as during Leonardo’s time, entail meaningful, long-term relationships between mentors and their mentees”
This Summer travel backwards in Renaissance

Lessons from Renaissance #1

Do you know why Pope Julius II assigned the impossible task to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to a young artist at that time much more experienced and known as a sculptor rather than as a painter, such as Michelangelo?

His painting experience was limited to small pieces, and little in the way of frescoes, and more than this not on extended ceilings like the one of the Sistine Chapel, which required a type of scaffolding radically different from any other used before...this slowed down the start of the works that took 4 years to be completed ...the Pope clearly believed in this case that potential could trump experience.

Michelangelo indeed recurred to his skills and taste as a sculptor and architect in painting the now-iconic frescoes of the Sistine, that still nowadays stand out for their monumental classic beauty that imitate sculptural forms of the Ancient Rome

Keep reading Eric Weiner’s article at Harvard Business Review 

This Summer travel backwards in Renaissance