18 May 2015

Still-lifes by Peale and Core

Names are important in art. The American master Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827) had three sons who became painters: Rembrandt, Raphaelle [sic] and Titian. His fourth son was Rubens. Raphaelle is thought to be America’s first still-life painter who, on occasion, punned on his name as in the...

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20 Nov 2014

Actual size of Michelangelo’s figures

How large are Michelangelo's figures on the Sistine ceiling? Visitors find it difficult to tell from the chapel floor because they are so far away. It was not until I saw the photograph at right that I realized their true size. Jonah's thigh is wider than the height of the art historian's...

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26 May 2014 | 1 Comments

Magic from Matisse and Michelangelo

What does Matisse’s figure from Dance II (1910) have to do with Michelangelo’s St Peter from the Last Judgment (1534-41). More than you might think. Bear with me. Both are nude against a blue sky, facing us and facing left; both look a little hunch-backed. Matisse’s dances;...

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17 Jul 2013 | 1 Comments

Michelangelo Rocks in The Battle of Cascina (1504)

This post explains additional obervations not included in the original article here on Michelangelo’s The Battle of Cascina, a 1504 cartoon for a never-completed mural in the civic heart of Florence. It is one of the most celebrated and influential works in the history of art. A composition...

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07 Oct 2012 | 7 Comments

Michelangelo’s Skull

In the three-part article on Michelangelo's Art Through Michelangelo's Eyes (2005) I argue that Michelangelo's Last Judgment is a scene inside the artist's mind with many of the figures formed into a giant view of his poetic hero, Dante Alighieri. The conclusion reveals an even larger "face" on...

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14 Jun 2012

“Sir, rejoice with me, I have become God.”

The Inner Tradition in Christianity, the idea that Scripture and Christ’s teachings are allegorical in nature, is so little known that its impact on art has not been properly addressed. Those following the tradition know that God, as described by Christ, can only be found inside oneself...

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02 Apr 2012

Villard de Honnecourt’s Commentary on Life and God

Vassily Kandinsky was not just thinking of his own abstract works when he wrote that: "The greatest mistake one can make is to believe that Art is the reproduction of Nature."1 He was referring to all Art. I agree, as many of you know, but I argue more specifically that most art is a...

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01 Apr 2012

Eureka! My Last Judgement on Michelangelo’s


For years I have struggled with the meaning of Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. The essay “Michelangelo’s Art Through Michelangelo’s Eyes” explains my overall understanding of the Sistine ceiling and the altar wall on which the Last Judgment is painted. It was published online...

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09 Feb 2012

The Artist as Creative God

The idea within esoteric Christianity that God is our innermost self, the universal self that we all share, has inspired many Western artists over the centuries to depict themselves as God in the process of creation. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is the most obvious example and is explained...

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23 Nov 2011

Rembrandt’s Hand

We have already seen (in Donatello’s Davids and Goliaths) that Donatello identified with both David and Goliath. Both his giants (in the marble and bronze versions) have double vision, out-sight and insight, the two forms conveyed by one eye open and the other closed. Giorgione and ...

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20 Oct 2011

Picasso’s Eyeball

Yesterday I asked if anyone knew of a link between Manet’s Absinthe Drinker and Picasso’s Blue Period paintings. There are several. They both use Marcantonio Raimondi’s Portrait of Raphael, a small engraving, as their source; both were painted early in the artist’s career; both involve...

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03 Oct 2011

Being in the Image and Text

In many religious images on this site I have shown how the artist both illustrates their effort to unite with God and their own difficulties in creating the image itself. Paul Jay, a literary critic, found something similar in St. Augustine Confessions. He writes that Book 10 of the Confessions...

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01 Oct 2011

Quotation of the Week #3

“In painting, the idea is an image that the intellect of the 
 painter has to see with interior eyes in the greatest
 silence and secrecy.”1  

Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475-1564)

18 Sep 2011

Christ’s Private Chamber

The Inner Tradition on which our theory of art depends is widespread, constant and ever-changing. All major artists are in one way or another influenced by some version of it. Aldous Huxley called it the “Perennial Philosophy”, identifying in a large number of mystical theologies certain truths...

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11 Sep 2011

The Kimbell Gets a Surprise

Nicolas Poussin’s Sacrament of the Ordination (1640's) is one of the masterpieces of Western art. I wrote about it last year when it failed to sell at auction. Now the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas has acquired it for $24 million. The Kimbell is a small museum specializing in those...

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