Cultural Cocktail Hour
Michelangelo’s Broken Nose
by Leticia Marie Sanchez
In light of the Getty Center‘s new exhibit, Michelangelo, Mind of the Master, an insight into the maestro that first appeared on Cultural Cocktail Hour a few years ago:
As a teenager, Michelangelo Buonarroti suffered a blow at the hands of a green-eyed bully.
Two different accounts of the story exist. In Vasari’s Lives of the Artists, Pietro Torrigiano, an artist studying with Michelangelo under the patronage of Lorenzo De ‘Medici, grew jealous of Michelangelo’s undeniable talent. Resentful of his former pal’s new status as teacher’s pet, Torrigiano delivered a blow that knocked the 15-year-old genius out cold.
In the Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini, Torrigiano defended himself by saying that Michelangelo was teasing the other artists working in the Church of the Carmine. He admitted the viciousness of his attack: “I felt bone and cartilage go down like biscuit beneath my knuckles; and this mark of mine he will carry with him to the grave.”
Torrigiano should have taken Anger Managment 15th Century style: I’m sorry I Baroque a Friend’s Nose.
Instead, Torrigano continued on a temper tantrum-filled path that eventually led him to prison. Not just any prison.
A Spanish holding cell established by the black-robed goons of the Inquisition. Woops. Torrigiano had become so enraged at a miserly payment for his sculpture of the Virgin that he smashed his Madonna to smithereens. Let’s just say that the fanatical judges did not crack up at the crack up.
As for Michelangelo, he carried more with him to the grave than a broken nose. He has bequeathed the world everlasting art brimming with humanity, majesty, and passion.