02-04-10 He Has Horns!

Michelangelo's Moses

This is Michelangelo’s “Moses,” and it is housed in one of the most unassuming places any great work art resides – the Church of St. Peter in Chains in Rome. Michelangelo was commissioned to do Pope Julius II’s tomb and Moses was to be one of 50 sculptures to decorate the tomb. Humility? I don’t think so.

The Pope ran out of money and the tomb was scaled back. But we got “Moses” out of the deal. Why the horns? Well, one account I’ve read says that the horns come from a mistranslation of the Old Testament. The Hebrew should have read “rays of light,” not “horns.”

Whenever I see a Michelangelo sculpture, I am struck first by how amazingly life-like the cold stone is. But I am also in awe of the physical feat it must have been for Michelangelo to wrest the figures from the stubborn Carerra marble.

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9 thoughts

  1. It’s been a little while since I stopped by, and I’ve just finished catching up on your posts. I’m glad to see you’ve decided to continue your blog. It’s always fun to see what you’ve been able to create, and your musings often make me smile. Your beautiful work also inspires me to look closer and try new and different things with my own photography.

  2. Michelangelo’s Moses seems to be more devilish than a saint. I don’t believe that is an appropriate for a church. Churches are suppose to be about God and Jesus and his teachings, but this sculpture shows one of the Bible’s most known figure, Moses, with horns. That isn’t right in my eyes.

  3. When I look at this picture, I see a very life-like sculpture. It’s shocking how well the marble seems to flow in the way it was carved. I think it would be very difficult to carve something so intricate and include so many details, like the curls in his hair, or the beard.

  4. I think Michelangelo spent a great deal of time forming and sculpting the details. He must have spent a long time meticulously carving Moses. If you look closely, you can see the horns, curls in his beard, detail to his surroundings, veins in his muscles, and the creases in what he is wearing.
    Michelangelo was a profound sculptor, painter, and artist. He leaves no details missing. He was truly an amazing man.

  5. The first things i notice on this picture would definitely be the horns on this guy and his long beard. I don’t think like they said it would be humility. It should not be because this is a very unique and visual sculpture. He obviously made this sculpture to show or send out a certain message and no one should be ashamed of it.

  6. I am really amazed every time I see a Michelangelo sculpture. I think that they are some of the best works of art that I’ve ever seen. This one really stuck out to me because of the detail in Moses’s beard. I can’t even imagine the amount of time and work that must have went into any one of these sculptures.

  7. You mentioned that the “horns” might have meant to be rays of sunlight. If you think of it that way, it actually makes sense. This kind of makes Moses look like he is the sun, or is being compared to the sun. Maybe Michaelangelo meant for it to be that way, maybe not. I personally think the horns make the sculpture a little more personal, and they give Moses a unique feature.

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