Thursday, August 6, 2009

Michelangelo, St. Anthony, and rye mold

I corrected the Wampus cat post by taking out a stray phrase I forgot to edit out.

Recently , the Kimbell Museum in Dallas acquired a painting , "The Torment of St. Anthony " , which may have been painted by Michelangelo at the age of 12 or 13, when he was a student of Domenico Ghirlandiao's studio in 1477 and 1478.Although the painting is clearly from Ghirlandiao's studio, there is a great deal of scholarly dispute as to whether or not the painting is Michelangelo's. it's based on a lithograph by Martin Schongauer. The painting is not an exact copy of the lithograph, it's larger, and has added features, such as fish scales.

The Schongauer lithograph

The painting is reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch. Here's Bosch's St. Anthony triptych. (Sorry for the really long URL here).

St. Anthony was a third century Christian ascetic and monastic who spent his adult life in the Egyptian desert, largely in solitude. His time there included living in a tomb and twenty years living in solitude in a small cell in a fort. Food was slipped into the cell through a small crevice. No one was allowed to actually enter the cell where he lived. He had visions of being attacked by wild animals and scorpions, but overcame them. He is credited with a number of miraculous healings of those suffering from ergotism, which became known as St. Anthony's Fire. This is represented in the Bosch triptych shown above. The symptoms included hallucinations , severe pain and gangrene. Amputation was usually required.The disease was caused by ergot, a fungus found in moldy rye flour.

Here's a 1946 painting of Salvador Dali's "Temptation of St. Anthony".


  1. Most enjoyable ! I love the art :>) My eldest son is a huge fan of Dali.
    Thanks Bob

  2. wow that's just so amazing, Michelangelo was only a year or so younger when he made that beautiful piece of art...that is definetley not something I could ever say I could do.

    Saints are so interesting, have you ever looked up pictures of the incorrupts? I may have spelled that wrong, but like saints whos bodies don't decay after death. St.Bernadette of Lourdes is by far the coolest.

    Hope you're having a good day! I like your blog :)


  3. Thanks Cyndy and Raigan! - I will check out pictures of the incorrupts.