Son of God

Brigid Brophy

  • Michelangelo by Robert Liebert
    Yale, 447 pp, £25.00, January 1983, ISBN 0 300 02793 1
  • The Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse edited by Stephen Coote
    Penguin, 410 pp, £3.95, March 1983, ISBN 0 14 042293 5

The heavenly ruler looked down, noted the inadequacy of Giotto and his successors and decided to dispatch Michelangelo to earth, there to demonstrate perfection in no fewer than four arts (drawing, painting, sculpture and architecture) and thus redeem mankind from errors of taste. So runs the exordium of Giorgio Vasari’s Life of Michelangelo. It would not surprise me if Vasari got this conceit from the source that provided much of his biographical information – namely, Michelangelo. Dr Liebert, a psychoanalyst, discerns that during his last twenty years Michelangelo ‘increasingly and deeply identified himself with Christ’. Certainly he inclined to treat Popes as vicars of Michelangelo. It may well be his own account of his mission, given narrative form by the fantasy underlying it, that Vasari recorded as a mini-myth which is in essence a de-Christianised and non-blasphemous version of the myth of the incarnation.

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[*] Edited by H. Montgomery Hyde: 448 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 85013 346 9.