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Michelangelo's Double Self-Portraits
Edith Balas

Carnegie Mellon
2004 • 96 pp. 41 illus. 8 1/2 x 11"
Art Criticism & Theory

$45.00 Hardcover, 978-0-88748-417-9

An examination of Michelangelo’s work by art historian Edith Balas.

For many years scholars have been aware that Michelangelo included his own image in his art. In this study, Edith Balas discusses two previously unrecognized double self-portraits. The earliest of these, a statue known as the Victory, was a private project in which an aging Michelangelo of depicted himself surmounted by an idealized alter ego, a figure associated with his younger self, his beloved friend Tommaso Cavalieri, and the David and Goliath theme that preoccupied him through much of his career. In the second of these double self-portraits, The Conversion of Paul in the Pauline Chapel of the Vatican, the artist, again portraying himself in youth and old age, used a central event in sacred history to make a statement about his own spiritual transformation from Neoplatonist "paganism" to a more orthodox form of Christian piety. Dr. Balas carefully explores the meaning of both works with reference to Michelangelo's life, art and poetry, and reveals them to be among the profoundest autobiographical statements in the history of Western art.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“Edith Balas uses this examination of self-portraiture to examine how Michelangelo's attitudes changed over time. In addition, she is able to interweave these self-examinations into the philosophical and religious developments of the day. Thus the self-portraits she has identified offer important new insights into the world that surrounded, supported, inspired, and ultimately frustrated Michelangelo.”—David Wilkins

“Edith Balas's work is characterized by a high degree of inventiveness and by a willingness to look at old problems in new ways and do the careful labor of working through previous scholarship (which for Michelangelo is always daunting) in order to give her insights a firm scholarly foundation.”—David Summers

“Edith Balas—a scholar in a respected tradition of iconographic analysis and textual exegesis—has written a provocative essay about an artist who supposedly made no portraits.”—William E. Wallace

EDITH BALAS has been Professor of Art History at Carnegie Mellon University for the past twenty-seven years, as well as Research Associate at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to more than twenty articles in American and European journals, her publications include Brancusi and the Romanian Folk Tradition (East European Monographs, 1987; also available in Romanian translation), Michelangelo's Medici Chapel: A New Interpretation (American Philosophical Society, 1995), Joseph Csáky, a Pioneer of Modern Sculpture (American Philosophical Society, 1998), The Holocaust in the Painting of Valentin Lustig (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2002), The Mother Goddess in Italian Renaissance Art (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2002), The Early Work of Henry Koerner (Frick Art & Historical Center 2003). Dr. Balas has curated a number of exhibitions at the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University, and the Frick Art & Historical Center.

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:13:32 -0500