Inside the Academy of Fine Arts our guide is showing us Michelangelo’s unfinished “Atlas”.
Technically it is the ‘Atlas slave’ because it was part of a series of sculptures now known collectively as ‘The Slaves’. It was designed to be viewed between the young slave and the awakening slave. In Greek mythology Atlas was a being condemned to bear the weight of the heavens on his shoulders.
Just a few words about the guide in this photo. You could almost describe him like one of the prophets from the Old Testament. He appeared out of nowhere – more than 20 minutes after our tour was due to start – was electrifying in his speech, full of love and awe for God, and was gone in an instant, like the Spirit of the Lord. He was on a constant rotation, going in with one group, leaving them inside, and going out to bring in another group.
Not to be corny, but he did make the work and life of Michelangelo come Alive. I don’t think that I either knew or remembered that Michelangelo carved his statues from Front to Back – not the Hollywood/Looney Tunes stereotype of chiselling around the marble from all angles.
And of course the Academy also contains Michelangelo's 'David'.
It is impressive to look at from every angle. But it is more impressive when you remember the story behind it. David has his sling resting on his shoulder, and is holding a stone in his other hand, ready to enter combat with Goliath.
This is the David who answered the jeers of Goliath with:
‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord God of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel that you have dared to insult. Today the Lord God will deliver you into my hand and I shall kill you; I will cut off your head, and this very day I will give your dead body and the bodies of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that it is not by sword, or by spear that the Lord God gives the victory, for the Lord God is Lord of the battle and He will deliver you into our power.’ (1 Sam 17:45-47)
Icons are worth spending the time to ponder and soak in the beauty and the message.
We are not used to seeing this kind of depiction of the crucifix. You can see both Death – Jesus offering the supreme sacrifice – and Resurrection -the beginning of the dance of victory over sin and death - in this one icon.
This is Pacino di Buonaguida’s “Tree of Life”, painted somewhere between 1310 and 1315 AD.
The true size of this painting is around 1.5m wide and 2.5m high. It is a visual compendium of the Gospel. Jesus Crucified is the centre and source. From His Cross come 12 long branches, and upon each branch are 4 medallions, each showing a scene from the life of Jesus. For example, there is a medallion, or ‘meditation’, on the birth of Jesus, on His circumcision, of raising a dead person from the grave, of His condemnation to death. There are tiny scrolls and tiny ribbons with writing labelling many of the medallions.
And God has also been giving us “perfect” weather to get us through each day.
Vincent Cavanagh #bbwyd
25 Jul 2023, 7.58pm Italy | 26 Jul 2023, 3.58am Sydney
News and Other Stuff
About recent artwork, inspirations and other things I find interesting.