Saturday, December 16, 2017

Details, Details... Moses and Creatine Monohydrate (in the Church of Madonna dell'Orto)

A very fit Moses communes with the Almighty in Tintoretto's Adoration of the Golden Calf (detail)

Combine creatine Monohydrate, a body-building supplement, with the title of Freud's controversial late book Moses and Monotheism and you end up with the title of this post--and what comes to mind when I gaze high up at the figure of Moses in Tintoretto's towering split-level depiction of the delivery of the Ten Commandments and the worship of the Golden Calf in the church of Madonna dell'Orto.

Because these figures are so high up the apse (just below the church's ceiling), you really need binoculars to get a decent look at them in person. But it's worth the effort, as Tintoretto clearly intends this meeting of a mortal with the Almighty, this reception of The Law, to be even more dramatic than Adam's reception of Life on the Sistine Chapel. And, of course, there are a lot of other details to see as well--not least among them, all the horrors of Hell on the wall directly opposite, which supposedly sent Ruskin's frustrated young wife Effie Gray rushing from the church in fright. (Though one can't help but suspect her fear might have been just a pretext to escape for a short time from what one imagines were Ruskin's ceaseless lectures on what they were looking at.)

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