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Renaissance Studies

A «Festschrift» in Honor of Professor Edward J. Olszewski

Edited By Jennifer H. Finkel, Michael D. Morford and Dena M. Woodall

This Festschrift is dedicated to Edward J. Olszewski and was created by his former PhD students in gratitude and honor of a professor whose innovative and comprehensive research spans the Renaissance and Baroque periods. His research provided much insight to the arts, issues of patronage, conservation, and context. The text includes an array of topics conceived by each author while studying with Olszewski. His intense seminar on Michelangelo was the catalyst for many articles: Jennifer Finkel introduces new ideas regarding the proposed sculptural plan for the façade of San Lorenzo; Dena M. Woodall provides keen insight on the representations of genii on the Sistine Ceiling; Karen Edwards proposes the early creation of the figura serpentinata in Michelangelo’s own drawings and paintings; and Rachel Geshwind offers a new interpretation of his use of color symbolism in the Sistine Chapel. This seminar, and another on Mannerism, involved provocative discussion of the competitors of Michelangelo, where the foundation was laid for the much needed re-examination of Baccio Bandinelli’s Hercules and Cacus in Michael Morford’s article, which introduces the probability of Machiavellian influence, and Christine Corretti’s interpretation of Cellini’s Perseus and Medusa as the symbol of Cosimo’s I ideas of justice and the influence of women in his life. Olszewski’s own research on patronage, especially of the Ottoboni, mirrors Henrietta Silberger’s article on the collecting habits of Livio Odescalchi. Finally, Holley Witchey provides a personal experience in authenticating works of art in collections (a topic of interest for Olszewski) and ends her essay with a series of important questions for each of us to ask ourselves.


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The Colors of Seduction: New Thoughts on Color Symbolism in Michelangelo’s Temptation and Expulsion from Paradise RACHEL GESCHWIND 89


Rachel Geschwind The Colors of Seduction: New Thoughts on Color Symbolism in Michelangelo’s Temptation and Expulsion from Paradise Foolish are those who let themselves in by the colors of a depiction, thereby losing sight of the subject portrayed. - Pope Gregory the Great1 Art historical scholarship regarding Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceil- ing frescoes commonly delves into issues of iconography and the overall scheme of the fresco program. Although the ceiling decoration is well docu- mented, art historians remain divided on issues regarding theology and Neo- Platonic philosophy. Since the ceiling's cleaning from 1984 to its completion in 1994, recent scholarship has turned attention to the singular color scheme of the program.2 This essay reexamines iconography and Renaissance color theory in Michelangelo's Temptation and Expulsion from Paradise panel in the Sistine Chapel ceiling (fig. 1). I argue that Michelangelo’s relationship between iconography and color symbolism in the Temptation and Expulsion fresco supports Creighton Gilbert’s claims that the artist applied a proto- feminist methodology to his fresco program.3 It is my intention to contribute to a philogynist interpretation of the ceiling in my analysis of the changing hair color in the figures of Adam and Eve, which are key elements in uncov- ering Michelangelo’s intentions.4 The Iconography of Original Sin The Temptation and Expulsion section illustrates Genesis 3:1-24, the fundamental event of the Fall necessitating the Redemption of humankind. The scene occupies the part of the ceiling above the outside of the choir screen, coinciding with the Biblical account that after...

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