Giacobbe Giusti. ‘Michelangelo’s hellenistic archive’

Giacobbe Giusti. ‘Michelangelo’s hellenistic archive’

Posted by : Raffaello Bocciolini


ercole farnese

At a first sight, the first of these statues immediately recalls Michelangelo: some details remind his famous David, while the position of his arm behind his back looks quite similar to the one we can see in the allegoric statue of the Day or the little Jesus in Michelangelo’s relief known as Madonna della Scala… Nonetheless it is not a Michelangelo’s work: that’s the famous “Hercole Farnese”: a masterpiece of greek hellenistic sculpture that for sure had to be pretty familiar to Michelangelo.
According to Vasari’s biography, Michelangelo admired a lot the greek sculptures that were produced in the hellenistic time: he admired their likeness to reality and, and the same time their idealization that perfectly matched with those ideas of neoplatonic philosophy that Michelangelo had been knowing since he had been hosted in the Medici’s Palace when he was a young boy. The same as the Torso Belvedere, the Laocoonte and other hellenistic statues, the Hercules Farnese too was to Michelangelo much more than a simple model to inspire a pose.
Vasari says that Michelangelo had an extraordinary photographic memory that allowed him to “archive” hundreds of images in his mind. In his “mental archive”he had stored an endless gallery of statues(old hellenistic statues the most, but modern ones as well) and thanks to his sculpural mind he was able to rotate them in his mind so that he could easily use them in a way that no one realized where those images came from. Only few years ago an important scholar such as Antonio Natali realized that the nine persons he painted in his Tondo Doni were inspired, but we could even say -copied and pasted- from as many hellenistic statues that Michelangelo kept in his mental photographic archive, and then regenerated in his personal way…


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