New york thames and hudson 1984 p 62 charles h morgan

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New York: Thames and Hudson, 1984, p. 62. ** Charles H. Morgan, The Life of Michelangelo. New York: Reynal & Company, 1966, p. 103.
rivals. The pope, in fact, even threatened to toss Michelangelo off the scaffolding. During the four years that Michelangelo worked on the ceiling, he experienced unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and poverty. In a letter he wrote to his father in January 1509, he said: I am attending to work as much as I can. . . . I don’t have a penny. So I cannot be robbed. . . . I am unhappy and not in too good health staying here, and with a great deal of work, no instruc- tions, and no money. But I have good hopes God will help me. 50 The overworked artist was often depressed. Writing to his brother Buonarroto, he claimed, “I live here in great toil and great weariness of body, and have no friends of any kind and don’t want any, and haven’t the time to eat what I need. . . .” 51 Sometimes while painting the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo faced extreme physical challenges. On one occasion, he slipped from his scaffold and tumbled down a considerable distance, hurting himself severely. His biographer Vasari described Michelangelo 98
some of his physical difficulties while working on scaffolding in the chapel: He executed the frescoes in great discomfort, having to work with his face looking upward, which impaired his sight so badly that he could not read or look at drawings save with his head turned backwards: and this lasted for several months afterward. 52 While Michelangelo complained of his discom- fort in private letters to family and friends, he also wrote poetry such as the following, describing his difficulties: I’ve got myself a goitre [a swelling in the neck] from the strain As water gives the cats in Lombardy, Or maybe it’s in some other country. My stomach’s pushed by force beneath my chin, My beard towards heaven, and my brain I feel Is shoved upon my nape, and my breast is like a Harpy, And the brush, ever over my face Makes a rich pavement with its droppings. . . The Great Ceiling Painter 99
In front of me my skin is stretched And to bend it, folds itself behind And stretches like a Syrian bow. Thus, wrongheaded and strange Emerge the judgments that the mind brings forth, In that no good shot comes from a crooked gun. My painting, when I’m dead, defend it Giovanni, And my Honour too, since I am not in a good place, And am not a painter either . 53 The great Florentine artist actually worked on his ceiling masterpiece in two separate blocks of time. In addition, he usually did not paint during the two coldest months of each winter. The first productive period lasted from 1508 through 1509. During late 1510, the scaffolding had to be moved beneath the second half of the chapel. This gave Michelangelo time to make two trips outside Rome. The first trip took place in September, and the second in December. By February 1511, he was back to work. He did not stop until he completed the ceiling, in October 1512.

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