The Last Judgment: Michelangelo and the Death of the Renaissance

James A. Connor, Author . Palgrave Macmillan $26.95 (233p) ISBN 978-0-230-60573-2

Michelangelo did not want to create the Last Judgment (1537–1541), yet, argues Connor (Pascal's Wager ), it was his clearest expression of the “terror at the bottom of his psyche,” a terror stemming largely from the conflict between his probable homosexual desires and his religious faith. Connor traces the creation of the Last Judgment and Michelangelo's struggle to reconcile his “innate religious zeal” with his love for nobleman Tommaso de Cavalieri. Connor's narrative is compelling, his writing vivid and evocative. An English professor and former Jesuit priest, he superbly places the Last Judgment in the context of Copernicus's heliocentric universe and of the Catholic reforms of Savonarola and the Council of Trent. Yet the Council condemned the work for its nudity and unconventional portraits of religious figures; a chapter on the fresco's censorship is one of the book's most fascinating. The monumental painting was ultimately driven less by Michelangelo's artistic impulses than by his desire for salvation. Connor presents an indispensable perspective for the general reader as well as fresh insights for the specialist. (July)

Reviewed on: 05/11/2009
Release date: 06/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 233 pages - 978-0-230-62389-7
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-230-62267-8
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