8 Pages


WithLene Østermark-Johansen

Michelangelo was seen as change and permanence all at once; his long life, his repeated perception of himself as old, even when in his early forties, form the stable backdrop against which the religious, artistic and political changes of the Renaissance are reflected in his art. In the course of the Victorian period Michelangelo was depicted as Hebrew arid Hellene, Catholic and Protestant, martyr and 'Captain of Evil', as a lover of men and a lover of women, as sentimental and cynical, tender and terrible. The vision of Michelangelo's Romantic agony steadily intensified in the course of the nineteenth century and culminated in Symonds's life of the artist - a swan song, an ode to a nightingale in which subject, singer and song have become imperceptibly merged. Michelangelo's great virtue was his multifaceted personality, his ability to function as a Renaissance mirror in which every spectator could find an image of himself.