A «Festschrift» in Honor of Professor Edward J. Olszewski
Edited By Jennifer H. Finkel, Michael D. Morford and Dena M. Woodall
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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