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The Punishment of Haman

Michelangelo had reserved a special scene for the large double spandrel in the corner, to the left of the altar. Not only did he plan to dazzle viewers with a staggering example of foreshortening that would prove once and for all of his greatness as a painter, but he also planned to reveal something about […]

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Medici Return to Florence

As Cardinal de’ Medici led the Spanish column slowly toward Florence, Piero Soderini struggled with a troubling decision. He knew if he resigned his office as gonfaloniere, he faced immediate exile, possible torture, and even death. Yet if he chose to stay and fight, the city would likely suffer a long humiliating siege, one that […]

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The Brazen Serpent

As Michelangelo prepared to paint the right corner above the altar, he considered the story of the bronze serpent. It had two possible endings, he thought, just like Genesis. “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?” the people said to Moses. “There is no bread! There is no […]

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