Metaphorical painting: Michelangelo, Dante, and the Last Judgment

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Metaphorical painting: Michelangelo, Dante, and the Last Judgment

Barnes, Bernadine

The Art Bulletin; Mar (1995)77, 1

Abstract

In the lower right corner of the Last Judgement, Michelangelo painted an unmistakeable quotation from Dante’s Inferno (figs. 1, 2). The figures of Charon and Minos were easily recognized by sixteenth-century viewers, and to the present day no one has seriously questioned the reference, although occasionally additional meanings have been pointed out. It is not my purpose to overturn this rare bit of consensus, nor is it my purpose to contradict many sources that tell us how well Michelangelo knew Dante’s writings.

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Sharan Newman