Michelangelo hid anatomical sketches in Sistine Chapel to attack Church

June 17th, 2010 - 6:38 pm ICT by ANI  

London, June 17 (ANI): Michelangelo hid sketches of human anatomy in the robes and faces of the figures he painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which appeared as a coded attack on the Church’s disdain for science, according to researchers.The Renaissance master, who painted the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel between 1508 and 1512, cleverly disguised drawing of a human brain, which has remained unnoticed for 500 years.

The hidden sketch may have been a coded reference to the clash between science and religion.

Michelangelo would have been familiar with what a brain looked like - he was an accomplished anatomist who is known to have dissected many corpses.

According to two American neuroscientists, the image of the brain is ingeniously hidden in the depiction of God’s neck and chin in ‘Separation of Light From Darkness’, which depicts the first act performed by God in the creation of the universe.

It is one of nine panels on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling based on scenes from the Book of Genesis.

For a long time, art historians have speculated that the strange, lumpy appearance of the figure’s neck may represent a goiter.

But Ian Suk and Rafael Tamargo, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, believe instead that it bears a striking resemblance to the crevices and creases of a human brain.

“Stunningly, following Michelangelo’s outline, one can draw into God’s neck and beard an anatomically correct ventral depiction of the brain,” the Telegraph quoted them as saying.

“We propose that Michelangelo, a deeply religious man and an accomplished anatomist, intended to enhance the meaning of this … panel and possibly document his anatomic accomplishments by concealing this sophisticated neuro-anatomic rendering within the image of God,” they added.

They also believe that an odd-looking, vertical fold in the crimson robe worn by the figure of God represents the spinal cord, and that a mysterious Y-shaped fold at his waist may be an optic nerve.

The new thesis may explain something that has puzzled art critics for centuries - the peculiar lighting of God’s neck.

Most of the fresco is illuminated from the lower left of the panel, but the neck is lit head-on and slightly from the right, casting different shadows.

The researchers have argued that, the lighting was not a clumsy error by Michelangelo, but the peculiar angle deliberately enhanced the anatomical components of the brain.

By merging an image of God with a human brain, Michelangelo may have been seeking a covert outlet to show off his anatomical knowledge at a time when picking apart cadavers was frowned on by the Roman Catholic Church.

The study has been published in the scientific journal ‘Neurosurgery’. (ANI)

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