Forget your budding little artists’ portraits of Obama , and check out Michelangelo’s "Torment of St. Anthony." There’s a fascinating-and somewhat frustrating- article in the New York Times today about the debate over whether he did, as a 12- or 13-year-old, in fact paint the portrait, based on an engraving. The controversy has been raging for 400 years or so, so I was expecting some decisive new evidence or angle to have occasioned the headline, but was disappointed. A recent cleaning has introduced some new data in support of the notion that this is the master himself at work, not a workshop production in which he might have helped as a pupil. But experts still disagree on whether the new revelations add up to proof: The "quality" (how’s that for vague?) of the work is clearer, the now-vibrant colors call to mind the Sistine Chapel vault, and there’s a "kind of emphatic cross-hatching" on some rocks that, according to an expert, is typical of Michelangelo. But is no one looking for tell-tale signs of immaturity ? After all, even geniuses develop. On that score, here’s an amateur, totally anachronistic take: Look at the zeal expended on those demons, and tell me that doesn’t look like a brilliant young teenager at work.
Michelangelo, The Torment of Saint Anthony , c. 1487–88. Oil and tempera on panel, 18 1/2 x 13 1/4 in. Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Democrats’ War at Home
How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?
Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best
Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke
A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking
Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10
Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.
How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.
You Deserve a Pre-cation
The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.