Review Of "Michelangelo's Medici Chapel : A New Interpretation" By E. Balas

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date


Published In



According to Balas, who has heretofore been known for her Brancusi studies, the iconographical studies of Michelangelo's celebrated Medici Chapel fall into two categories: the Neoplatonic exegeses of De Tolnay and Panofsky and the sociological approaches of Hartt, Pope-Hennessy, Ettlinger, and Gilbert. The "new interpretation" she offers, drawn from her extensive reading of Renaissance astrology, is actually essentially Neoplatonic; but she differs from her predecessors in her emphasis on the inherently hermetic nature of the Chapel's meaning, which she ascribes to the artist himself. Linking the two Medicis with Jupiter and Saturn, she devotes almost a third of the book to the discussion of the two female allegorical figures, Night and Dawn, which she identifies as "the maternal and virginal aspects of the Earth Goddess." The strength of the study lies in its coherence. But, like other high iconology of Panofskian vein, it leaves the readers perplexed as to how it really explains Michelangelo's art--especially given the fact that the project was left bewilderingly incomplete. The book is nevertheless rewarding for its erudite intellectual reflection on an aspect of Renaissance culture. Recommended for all college libraries. Undergraduate; graduate; faculty; general.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

This document is currently not available here.