Michelangelo’s Portrait of a Devil

Minos, a detail of the Last Judgment, by Michelangelo        a Wikigallery public domain photo here

This is one of the few portraits Michelangelo ever painted. Who is it? Biagio da Cesena, the papal master of ceremonies. He is the devil Minos here in the Last Judgment picture on the Sistine Chapel wall.

Minos stood at the Gates of Hell just as St. Peter stood at the other ones. He examined the curriculum of the damned and decided where to send them—to which department.

Why did Michelangelo piant Biagio as a devil?
Biagio told Pope Julius within Michelangelo’s hearing that the big painting, with all its nudes, would be more fitting for a tavern wall than a chapel. In revenge Michelangelo put Biagio’s face on Minos.

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10 Responses to Michelangelo’s Portrait of a Devil

  1. Aryul says:

    Notice how the snake is also biting his crotch!

  2. 100swallows says:

    His crotch–no! His entire genital package…. Now that I look closer I see that the snake does not have it all. Since Volterra painted a loin-cloth on the figure, there must have been something to cover.
    Condivi, Mike’s biographer, says: “The sinners are dragged down by evil spirits, the proud by the hair, the lascivious by their pudenda, and each sinner correspondingly by the part of his body with which he sinned”. The note in my good edition (Helmut Wohl) says: “According to a law prevalent in the late Middle Ages, punishment was inflicted on that part of the convicted criminal’s body with which he had committed the crime”.

  3. iondanu – I am a visual artist of Romanian origin (a draughtsman, painter, photographer and digital artist) living now in Canada.
    Ion Danu says:

    This is the first time I see this detail of Michelangelo’s painting! (I am amazed because I paint something pretty much similar but it was more a Adam & the serpent… I’ll send you the reproduction…

  4. iondanu – I am a visual artist of Romanian origin (a draughtsman, painter, photographer and digital artist) living now in Canada.
    Ion Danu says:

    …and I didn’t cover a thing!

  5. There is a double image there of a human skull, this was a double insult to the cardinal.


    Few art historians notice a pattern of creating double images in Michelangelo’s drawings and frescoes. There was different proposals of hidden images in the Sistine Chapel: anatomy lesson in the ceiling and a giant hidden portrait of Dante in the Last Judgement. After the da Vinci code, purely invented by Dan Brown, there is not much tolerance left of such hidden messages or images.

    I believe in these double images, because there is a search of artistic complexity from the double image of the ceiling and the giant one of the Last Judgement and also they are credible when you make a long observation.

    From here I bring something completely new, I ask the readers to believe me for a moment about Michelangelo and double images and listen to this:

    in 1546 Michelangelo offered, very surprisingly, a painting to Francis 1st, King of France.

    Could Michelangelo created a pure surrealist painting with many double images in it that could have been ignored for 450 years? I pretend to own this painting.

    Just a troubling fact: This painting is a copy! I pretend that Michelangelo has done a surrealist version of Giorgione’s adoration of Shepherds. (remember one thing: in the ceiling fresco, Michelangelo has also copied other artists like Ghiberti, della Quercia, Masaccio).

    Like the ceiling: the painting has an anatomical drawing in it.

    Like the hidden portrait of the Last Judgement: Many fragments(rocks vs figures) is creating a bigger image.

    I explain that in my website here:

    comments: jfdavid2006@hotmail.com

    So I pretend that Michelangelo has developed extensively double images in the course of his life through paintings and that an unknown Michelangelo painting in perfect condition exist right now.

    JF David
    december 2009

  6. Annie says:

    It’s just breath taking

  7. Kevin Graham says:

    Things are not always what they seem or present themselves to be. Spirit energies are transferable, to and fro. Michael Angelo and Da Vinci deliberately left us hidden messages for a reason, because they did not have the freedom to do so openly in their time!

  8. Mahir Moid says:

    Good Information but I want to know which year did Michelangelo Paint it?

  9. Pingback: Best 21 Gates Of Hell Michelangelo - Au Idol

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