WHERE NOW | ART Just a few rooms away in the dark and secretive Borgia Apartment, we find another mysterious appearance. The work in question is Pinturicchio’s a fresco completed in 1494, shortly after the discovery of the Americas. It’s a detail so tiny, you’d never see it if you didn’t know to look— in fact, it was only discovered after heavy restorations. In the background behind the sarcophagus, just to the left of the portrait of Juan Borgia, stands a group of what appear to be Native Americans, replete with feathered headdresses and mohawks. If confirmed by art historians, the work would be the first European painting to depict Native Americans. depicted in the guise of the cynic Heraclitus. Although it was a great compliment for Raphael to include Michelangelo in the work ( particularly since they were by no means friendly), the former did get in an innocent jab at his rival: although every other figure appears barefoot or in sandals, Michelangelo is depicted wearing his worn- out boots, the very ones he infamously never took off, not even to sleep. Another mystery can be found in one of the Vatican’s greatest treasures, Michelangelo’s Many hypothesize that the handsome, mustached face and limp, lifeless body of Christ were modeled on the corpse of Juan Borgia, the son of the Pope at the time. Juan was murdered in 1497 (a crime still unsolved to this day), and his stabbed body was dragged from the Tiber less than a year before Michelangelo started working on this masterpiece. In addition, a detail invisible to a visitor (the sculpture sits behind glass) is the fact that Christ has an extra incisor, in essence, a third front tooth. Incisors represent sin, and so it could follow that Michelangelo added the tooth to illustrate Christ taking on the sins of the world. Pietà. The Risen Christ, Raphael was not the only artist to seek to insult one of his creative rivals within a work of art. Much more damning than Michelangelo’s boots was the portrait of Caravaggio in Giovanni Baglioni’s now located at Palazzo Barberini. Baglioni was a mediocre artist who nevertheless enjoyed great popularity and patronage from the church during his lifetime. Although he was derisive of Caravaggio’s work, he copied the chiaroscuro master’s style, a fact that Caravaggio highly resented. When Caravaggio publicly insulted Baglioni’s Baglioni created a new version of the work: a chaste and armored Sacred Love interrupts a tryst between Profane Love and the devil himself who has the features of Caravaggio, a not- so- subtle rebuke of the latter’s morals. Sacred and Profane Love, Renaissance superstar Raphael frescoed the residence of Pope Julius II— the rooms directly above the Borgia Apartment— a decade later, including the imposing in which Raphael depicts some of the greatest thinkers of ancient times, from Plato and Socrates to Euclid and Pythagoras. In addition, Raphael honored some of the most brilliant artists of his day, placing their features within the portraits of the ancients. Plato bears Leonardo’s face, Euclid appears as the architect Donato Bramante, and most famously, Michelangelo’s face was Caravaggio (whose given name was Michelangelo) honored his namesake in his which now hangs in the Pinacoteca of the Vatican Museums. The figure of Nicodemus, who holds the legs of Christ, bears a face identical to portraits of a middle-aged Michelangelo, complete with his high, wide forehead, full beard, and a broken nose. In addition, the stark white arm of Christ that hangs down to touch the tomb is identical to Michelangelo’s marble version in the carved over a century earlier. School Entombment of Christ, of Athens, Sacred and Profane Love, Pietà, Pictured, page 14: Top: detail of Michelangelo’s Pinturicchio’s Page 15: Detail of Michelangelo’s Chapel. This page: Clockwise from left: Caravaggio’s from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel; by Giovanni Baglioni; detail of Raphael’s Pietà; detail of The Risen Christ. Cumean Sibyl and Two Ignudi, Sistine Entombment of Christ; Sacred and School of Athens. detail The Creation of Adam, Profane Love 16 WHERE ROME I NOVEMBER 2019
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