History

A Minnesota University Is Under Fire for Dismissing an Art History Professor Who Showed Medieval Paintings of the Prophet Muhammad


In a controversial move, an adjunct professor at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, has lost her job after showing her class Medieval paintings depicting the Prophet Muhammad, founder of the Islamic religion.

The school’s decision not to renew the professor’s contract for the current semester has sparked debates over free speech, including a Change.org petition in support of the teacher, signed by at least 2,500 scholars and students of Islamic studies and art history, and a condemnation from PEN America of the “egregious violation” of academic freedom.

Though it is not mentioned in the Koran, many Muslims believe it is idolatrous to show Muhammad’s face. Most mosques instead are decorated with geometric designs and calligraphy featuring passages from the Koran, and Islamic figurative art is now rare.

But there is also a tradition of painting Muhammad, often in miniature, especially in Persia, Turkey, and India. Examples can be found in the collections of museums such as the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. It was a selection of two of those artworks shown to the class that cost the professor her job.

Mustafa ibn Vali, illustration of Muhammad in <em>The Life of the Prophet (Siyer-i nebi)</em>, ca. 1594–95. Collection of the Chester Beatty Library.

Mustafa ibn Vali, illustration of Muhammad in The Life of the Prophet (Siyer-i nebi), ca. 1594–95. Collection of the Chester Beatty Library.

The teacher, identified by the Art Newspaper as Erika Lopez Prater, is said to have displayed the images during on online lecture on October 6, 2022. There was a two-minute content warning prior to the artworks’ appearance, to allow students to opt out of viewing the potentially offensive imagery should they feel it was against their faith.

“I am showing you this image for a reason,” Prater said before changing the slide, as reported by the university’s student paper, the Oracle. “And that is that there is this common thinking that Islam completely forbids, outright, any figurative depictions or any depictions of holy personages. While many Islamic cultures do strongly frown on this practice, I would like to remind you there is no one, monothetic Islamic culture.”

One of the artworks was an illustration of the archangel Gabriel delivering his revelations to Muhammad from a 14th-century manuscript by Rashīd al-Dīn called the Compendium of Chronicles, while the other was a 16th-century work by Mustafa ibn Vali showing the prophet with a veil and halo.

Aram Wedatalla, a student in the class and the president of the university’s Muslim Student Association, complained to the professor afterward. Prater apologized in an email, but Wedatalla elevated the issue to university administrators, arguing that the lesson was disrespectful to Muslim students.

In response, the dean of students sent an email to the student body condemning the incident as “undeniably inconsiderate, disrespectful, and Islamophobic.”

The prophet Muhammad in the cave of Hira, page from a Hamla-yi Haidari manuscript (ca. 1725). Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, gift of George Hopper Fitch.

The prophet Muhammad in the cave of Hira, page from a Hamla-yi Haidari manuscript (ca. 1725). Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, gift of George Hopper Fitch.

On December 6, two articles on the incident were published in the Oracle—one a news report in which the university’s associate vice president of inclusive excellence David Everett said that “it was decided it was best that this faculty member was no longer part of the Hamline community.”

“My perspective and actions have been lamentably mischaracterized, my opportunities for due process have been thwarted, and Dr. Everett’s all-employee email accusation that ‘undeniably… Islamophobic’ actions undertaken in my class on Oct. 6 have been misapplied,” Prater told the student paper.

The other Oracle article was a letter to the editor from Mark Berkson, the university’s department of religion chair and a professor of Asian religions, Islam, and comparative religion.

“In the context of an art history classroom, showing an Islamic representation of the Prophet Muhammad, a painting that was done to honor Muhammad and depict an important historical moment, is not an example of Islamophobia,” he wrote. “Labeling it this way is not only inaccurate but also takes our attention off of real examples of bigotry and hate.”

The Oracle editorial board removed the article from its website just two days after its publication. (Berkson’s text is currently available on the libertarian magazine Reason, along with both emails from administrators to the university community.)

The Islamic prophet Muhammad (figure without face) on Mount Hira. Ottoman miniature painting from the <em>Siyer-i Nebi</em>. Collection of the Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi, Istanbul.

The Islamic prophet Muhammad (figure without face) on Mount Hira. Ottoman miniature painting from the Siyer-i Nebi. Collection of the Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi, Istanbul.

“Those in our community have expressed that a letter we published has caused them harm,” the Oracle wrote in explanation of the decision. “Our publication will not participate in conversations where a person must defend their lived experience and trauma as topics of discussion or debate.”

The following day, a second university-wide email went out, from Everett and university president Fayneese Miller. It said that “respect for the observant Muslim students in that classroom should have superseded academic freedom.”

“Displaying an image of Muhammad may similarly be deeply offensive to some, but because it was pedagogically relevant to the course at issue, it is protected by basic tenets of academic freedom,” Sabrina Conza, the program officer of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), countered in an open letter to Miller, expressing the organization’s concern about the incident and calling for Prater to be reinstated.

The university had held a 33-person meeting about the incident on November 10, with Everett and other administrators such as the dean of students, the interim provost, the assistant director of social justice programs, and the university chaplain among those in attendance, as well as a number of students.

“Of all of the conversations that were held between the MSA and the administration about what to do about the situation, the faculty member was excluded and not a single scholarly voice was ever included,” Berkson told Hyperallergic. “So nobody in the room actually knew anything about these images.”

Persian miniature 1550 AD depicting the Prophet Muhammad ascending on the Burak into Heaven, a journey known as the Miraj. Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images.

Persian miniature 1550 AD depicting the Prophet Muhammad ascending on the Burak into Heaven, a journey known as the Miraj. Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images.

“These images are a part of Islamic artistic tradition, and it is very important for us to appreciate and study. That’s what art historians do,” Berkson added. “If specific students don’t want to look at it, that is an important right. I think we should have a protocol to ensure that no student’s religious prohibitions are violated. But their prohibition cannot be imposed on everyone else.”

Representatives for Hamline University did not respond to a request for comment.

To address concerns among the university’s Muslim community, Hamline reportedly invited Jaylani Hussein, executive director of Minnesota’s chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, to the school to lead a conversation about Islamophobia in December.

“Many of the Muslim students on campus, after they heard of this incident, it impacted them. It impacted their grades, it impacted them finishing off the semester. They obviously were hurt. At the same time, they’re appreciative of the institution doing the right thing,” Hussein told Twin Cities Pioneer Press last month. “For us Muslims, it is blasphemy.”

News of the professor’s termination was first reported outside the university in New Lines Magazine by Christiane Gruber, an art historian who specializes in depictions of Muhammad.

The Prophet Muhammad and his companions advancing on Mecca, attended by the angels Gabriel, Michael, Israfil and Azrail, from Siyer-i Nebi: The Life of the Prophet (1595).

The Prophet Muhammad and his companions advancing on Mecca, attended by the angels Gabriel, Michael, Israfil and Azrail, from Siyer-i Nebi: The Life of the Prophet (1595).

“Hamline administrators have labeled this corpus of Islamic depictions of Muhammad, along with their teaching, as hateful, intolerant, and Islamophobic. And yet the visual evidence proves contrary: The images were made, almost without exception, by Muslim artists for Muslim patrons in respect for, and in exaltation of, Muhammad and the Quran,” Gruber wrote.

“Through conflation or confusion, Hamline has privileged an ultraconservative Muslim view on the subject that happens to coincide with the age-old Western cliche that Muslims are banned from viewing images of the prophet,” she added, noting that this “muzzles all other voices while potentially endangering rare and precious works of Islamic art.”

“If these reports are accurate, Hamline University has committed one of the most egregious violations of academic freedom in recent memory,” Jeremy Young, senior manager of free expression and education at PEN America, said in a statement.

“Not only is an art history professor well within their rights to show medieval and Renaissance Islamic artworks in class,” he added, “but the professor apparently took added care to create a positive pedagogical experience for students—placing the images in historical context, allowing students to opt out of viewing them, and thoughtfully exploring the history and diversity of Islamic art and thought.”

The ascension of the prophet Muhammad depicted in the Miraj Nameh manuscript (1436).

The ascension of the prophet Muhammad depicted in the Miraj Nameh manuscript (1436).

The Academic Freedom Alliance also published a letter in support of Prater, calling for her immediate reinstatement.

“If a professor of art history cannot show college students significant works of art for fear that offended students or members of the community could get that professor fired for doing so, then there simply is no serious commitment to academic freedom at that institution—and indeed no serious commitment to higher education,” Keith Whittington, a member of the alliance’s academic committee and a professor of politics at Princeton University, wrote in the letter.

In another email to the Hamline community on December 31, the university president continued to defend the decision not to renew Prater’s contract.

“It was important that our Muslim students, as well as all other students, feel safe, supported, and respected both in and out of our classrooms,” Miller wrote, according to Pioneer Press. “It is also important that we clarify that the adjunct instructor was teaching for the first time at Hamline, received an appointment letter for the fall semester, and taught the course until the end of the term.”

In response, FIRE filed a complaint with the Higher Learning Commission on January 4, asking that the organization hold the university accountable for violating accreditation standards regarding academic freedom.

“We gave Hamline plenty of time to reverse course, but it’s clear they’re not planning to deliver on their academic freedom promises,” FIRE attorney Alex Morey, who wrote the complaint, said in a statement.

“Hamline has no right to dismiss an art history instructor for teaching art history,” Conza added. “Hamline clearly doesn’t understand what academic freedom means, even though it explicitly promises faculty this core right.”

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On Hip Hop‘s 50th Anniversary, Here Are the Essential Museum Shows Celebrating the Movement‘s History and Enduring Legacy


The year 2023 marks half a century since DJ Kool Herc dropped the first breakbeat at a house party in the Bronx, inadvertently birthing the style, movement, and whole culture we now know as hip hop. In the following decades, hip hop has topped charts, shaped fashions, inspired visual arts, and powered social justice causes, all as part of its globe-dominating footprint. “Hip hop,” as Snoop Dogg once put it, “is what makes the world go around.”

This year, celebrations have naturally been lined up to commemorate hip hop’s 50th anniversary. For one, New York City, the genre’s birthplace, will partner with the Universal Hip Hop Museum to stage 50 special events over 50 days. Other museums are not sitting this one out either. Below are a handful of upcoming exhibitions that are opening in time to honor hip hop’s long, rich, and enduring legacy.

 

Hip-Hop: Conscious, Unconscious
Fotografiska New York
January 26–May 21, 2023

David Corio, De La Soul outside the Apollo Theater, NYC (1993). Photo: Courtesy of Fotografiska New York and copyright of the artist.

To trace hip hop’s trajectory from its origins as a community concern to its emergence as a global juggernaut, Fotografiska, in conjunction with Mass Appeal, will exhibit a trove of images documenting some of the scene’s most notable players and moments. Here, photographs of the history-making likes of Grandmaster Flash, Lil’ Kim, and Beastie Boys will sit across from those of fresh faces including Kendrick Lamar and Megan Thee Stallion—all lensed by legendary photographers from Janette Beckman to Ricky Powell.

Key to the show is its focus on hip hop’s grassroots founding, aided by archival ephemera that will add context to the images on view. “It’s easy to forget that there was a time before hip hop was an industry and before it made money,” said Sacha Jenkins, CCO of Mass Appeal and the show’s co-curator. “The exhibition’s lifeblood is the period before hip hop knew what it was.”

 

Fresh, Fly, and Fabulous: 50 Years of Hip Hop Style
The Museum at FIT
February 8–April 23, 2023

Beau McCall, Black Lives Matter Triple T-shirt, 2021. Photo: © The Museum at FIT.

From Kangol hats and Adidas Superstars to Dapper Dan jackets and Timberland boots—hip hop artists have made significant stylistic choices across generations, and in turn, transformed the fashion landscape. Through an assembly of more than 100 garments and accessories, the Museum at FIT will explore the role of fashion in hip hop. Over the decades, the movement has revolutionized streetwear and athleisure, used apparel to center Black pride and strength, and ultimately, shifted the luxury market. 

Look out for key fashions such as the Karl Kani pieces worn by Tupac Shakur, the Tommy Hilfiger bandeau Aaliyah once donned, tracksuits beloved by Run DMC, among spotlights on labels like FUBU, Rocawear, and Fenty launched by hip hop entrepreneurs themselves.

 

The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century
Baltimore Museum of Art
April 5–July 16, 2023

Hassan Hajjaj, Cardi B Unity (2017). Photo: Courtesy the artist and Yossi Milo Gallery, New York.

In this collaborative exhibition, the Baltimore Museum of Art and Saint Louis Art Museum will track the wide-ranging impact of hip hop on popular culture since 2000. In particular, the show examines how the movement has challenged dominant cultural narratives and structures, surfacing themes from sexuality to poverty to urbanism, via the urgent and essential works of Black creatives.

Some 70 objects are on view, spanning a variety of mediums and created by artists not limited to Jean-Michel Basquiat, Nina Chanel Abney, Virgil Abloh, Lauren Halsey, and Arthur Jafa. Collectively, they offer “an opportunity to celebrate the richness of creativity and innovation hip hop has catalyzed by exploring it through social, material, and art historical lenses,” per Gamynne Guillotte, the BMA’s Chief Education Officer. 

Following its Baltimore dates, the exhibition will run at the Saint Louis Art Museum from August 25, 2023 through January 1, 2024.

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7 Exhibits From L.A.’s Academy Museum That Show How It Rethinks Hollywood History, From Boundary-Breaking Oscar Fashion to Problematic Makeup


After numerous delays, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures finally opened its doors this week, as members of the public were invited into the new seven-story, Renzo Piano-designed shrine to movie magic for the first time. 

The project has always been a high-profile one, and not just because of Hollywood’s outsized cultural influence or the names involved in bringing the thing to life (Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, and Bob Iger, to name a few).

The stakes were high: the industry, still reckoning with the problems laid bare by campaigns like “#MeToo” and “#OscarsSoWhite,” now has another identity crisis on its hands as the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way films are financed and experienced. Reverence for the institution is fading, evidenced by the lowest-ever ratings achieved by the most recent Academy Awards.

As Janelle Zara recently wrote, the entire way the museum tells cinema history has been reimagined to meet these questions and create a broader, more contemporary, and perhaps more engaging view of its subject matter. That’s not to say, though, that you won’t also find pieces of memorabilia from your favorite movies on display.

Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Okoye’s Black Panther outfit, and an animatronic E.T.—among many other greatest hits—are all on view as the public gets its first glimpse at the experience, alongside debut exhibitions devoted to filmmakers Hayao Miyazaki and Pedro Almodóvar.

To illustrate the scope of the museum’s vision, we asked collections curator Nathalie Morris to highlight a few of her favorite objects from the collection. Below are seven novel movie artifacts selected by Morris that give a sense of what to expect from the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, along with the curator’s commentary on each.

 

1) Phantasmagoria Magic Lantern

© Academy Museum Foundation.

© Academy Museum Foundation.

“Produced by English inventor Phillip Carpenter around 1821, this quirky-looking lantern was designed for rear, as opposed to front projection. It could create spooky apparitions and make specters appear and disappear at will, a defining feature of the phantasmagoria show, a precursor to the modern horror genre. This piece is part of the museum’s Richard Balzer Collection, on show as part of ‘The Path to Cinema.’ It’s a significant part of the centuries-long story of how optical devices have been used to tell stories, enthrall viewers and bring still images to life.”

 

2) Max Factor Pan-Cake Make-Ups

Max Factor Pan-Cake make-ups on display in the Acadamy Museum. Photo: Joshua White. ©Academy Museum Foundation.

Max Factor Pan-Cake make-ups on display in the Acadamy Museum. Photo: Joshua White. ©Academy Museum Foundation.

“Max Factor was an instrumental figure in the development of make-up for cinema, creating new products to match advances in film technology. He invented Pan-Cake make-up in response to the evolution of Technicolor in the 1930s, to ensure actors appeared with natural complexions on screen. While we salute his technical genius, we also want to highlight how these products reflect Hollywood’s problematic relationship to race, casting, and performance. Shades on display include ‘Light Egyptian,’ ‘Dark Egyptian,’ ‘Indian’ and ‘Chinese’—which were largely intended for use on white actors. Most problematic, of course, is the shade ‘Minstrel,’ an explicit reference to the long-standing practice of blackface.

The display of these pieces (curated by my colleagues Ana Santiago and Dara Jaffe as part of our ‘Identity’ gallery) is accompanied by a slideshow that contextualizes them within the history of racist casting and make-up practices. This explores the tradition of minstrelsy, racial stereotyping, and the long-standing practice of casting white actors to play people of color—an accepted norm that for a long time shut non-white actors out of roles and opportunities. For instance, Lena Horne was one of the few leading Black actresses in classical-era Hollywood. She lost out on the role of Julie in Showboat (1951) to Ava Gardner, who played a Black woman passing as white, wearing make-up to darken her skin. It’s only by confronting histories such as these that we can fully understand the past and strive for a more equitable future.”

 

3) Technicolor Camera From 1937

A Technicolor camera on display at the new Academy Museum in Los Angeles, CA Tuesday, September 21, 2021. Photo: David Crane/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images.

A Technicolor camera on display at the new Academy Museum in Los Angeles, CA Tuesday, September 21, 2021. Photo: David Crane/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images.

“Technicolor was a color camera system that shot some of the most visually stunning movies of all time, including The Wizard of Oz. Introduced in 1932, three-strip Technicolor represented a huge advance in motion picture technology, enabling an expressive and richly saturated palette for filmmakers to work with. The camera itself is also an elegant and beautiful piece of equipment and no collection of film technology would be complete without one.”

 

4) Olympia Typewriter Used by Joseph Stefano

The typewriter used by <i>Psycho</i> screenwriter Joseph Stefano. Photo: Joshua White. ©Academy Museum Foundation.

The typewriter used by Psycho screenwriter Joseph Stefano. Photo: Joshua White. ©Academy Museum Foundation.

“This typewriter was used by then-novice screenwriter Joseph Stefano to write the script for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960). Adapted from the 1959 novel by Robert Bloch, the film challenged the censors, terrified audiences and revitalized Hitchcock’s career, making him relevant to a new generation. As well playing a part in one of the most influential films of all time, the typewriter also serves to represent a key tool of the screenwriter (or the studio typing pool) before the introduction of personal computers and screenwriting software from the 1980s onwards.”

 

5) Dress Worn by Rita Moreno to the Academy Awards in 1962 and 2018

Actress Rita Moreno with her Academy Award in 1962. Courtesy of Getty Images.

Actress Rita Moreno with her Academy Award in 1962. Courtesy of Getty Images.

“The Academy Museum has a growing collection of significant Academy Awards red carpet fashions. This dress was worn by Rita Moreno, the first Latina actress to win an Academy Award, when she won Best Supporting Actress for the role of Anita in West Side Story (1961). Moreno accepted her statuette in this black and gold dress designed by Filipino fashion legend Pitoy Moreno. She wore the same dress again, altered to become strapless and accessorized with gloves and jewelry, when she was a presenter in 2018.”

 

6) Costume Worn by Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues (1972)

A costume worn by Diana Ross as Billie Holiday in <i>Lady Sings the Blues</i> (1972). Photo: Joshua White. © Academy Museum Foundation.

A costume worn by Diana Ross as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues (1972). Photo: Joshua White. © Academy Museum Foundation.

“Diana Ross wore this skirt suit in her Oscar-nominated performance as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues. Originally Norma Koch was to design all the costumes for the film, but shortly before filming commenced Ross had Bob Mackie and Ray Aghayan brought on to design her costumes (they had previously created many of her looks for concerts and television appearances). Given the short time window, Mackie and Aghayan were unable to make all of her costumes from scratch. This piece was inspired by Holiday’s style in the late ’40s/early ’50s, particularly in the film New Orleans (1947). It was selected from stock at Paramount studios and customized with the distinctive ‘B’ on the lapel, a great example of how practicality, problem-solving, and creativity come together in film costuming.”

 

7) Kazu Hiro Prosthetics for Charlize Theron in Bombshell (2019)

Charlize Theron in <i>Bombshell</i> (2019). Courtesy of Annapurna Pictures.

Charlize Theron in Bombshell (2019). Courtesy of Annapurna Pictures.

“Special effects make-up artist Kazu Hiro transformed Charlize Theron into Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly for 2019’s Bombshell. If you look carefully at these pieces (with the help of the accompanying interview with Hiro) you can understand the way in which he altered Theron’s chin, jawline, eyelids, eye color, and even nostrils to support her tour de force performance. Theron was nominated for an Oscar for her role, and Hiro, along with Vivian Baker and hair designer Anne Morgan, took home the award for Makeup and Hairstyling.”

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An Art History Professor Spotted an Unusual Painting at a Local Church. Now, It Is Being Hailed as a Major Italian Baroque Discovery


An art history professor in Westchester, New York, has discovered a rare Italian Baroque painting at a local church.

Iona College professor Tom Ruggio did a “double take” when he first saw the work at the Church of the Holy Family, he told ABC News, which first reported the discovery. He “realized immediately it was an Italian Baroque painting,” he said, and snapped some pictures with his phone to share with fellow art history experts in Italy and New York City.

Now, the painting, which has been identified as a 17th-century work by Cesare Dandini, is enjoying pride of place at Iona College’s Ryan Library on a three-month loan.

The work is known as Holy Family with the Infant St. John and dates to the 1630s. Experts said they thought it was missing all of these years. Dandini was “an artist of considerable refinement [and] promoted the Florentine devotion to strongly colored and elegantly crafted compositions,” according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which also owns works by the artist and helped authenticate the newly discovered work.

The Midnight Publishing Group Price Database lists 192 auction results for Dandini. The artist’s record at auction is $753,530 (£498,500) for Tobias and the Angel, sold at Sotheby’s London in 2000.

“It was God’s providence,” Monsignor Dennis Keane with Church of the Holy Family told Midnight Publishing Group News. Ruggio visited the church and made his discovery more than a year ago, near the start of lockdown. Keane clarified that the purchase of the painting, by the church’s former pastor, Monsignor Fitzgerald, actually happened at a gallery in Rome, and not London as initially believed and reported to ABC. Keane says the church believes the work was hung there sometime around 1962.

The painting will arrive back at the church from the Iona shortly before Christmas, Keane said, and plans for displaying it are in the works. For all the years that it has been hanging there, he and the church staff knew that it was an important Italian work but believed it was “follower of” or “after” Dandini, a qualification that often happens with Old Master works where attribution is not 100 percent certain. In this case, the research proved that it is in fact a genuine work by Dandini.

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Michelangelo Is a Giant of Art History. But as a Person, He May Have Actually Been Quite Short


As an artist, Michelangelo was a towering figure. As a human though, he may have actually been pretty short. 

For a new study published in the September 2021 issue of the Czech Republic-based journal Anthropologie, researchers at the Forensic Anthropology, Paleopathology, and Bioarchaeology Research Center in Italy examined three pieces of footwear believed to have belonged to the renaissance man: a pair of leather shoes and a single leather slipper, all in the collection of the Casa Buonarroti Museum in Florence. (The second slipper was stolen from the museum in 1873, according to Live Science.)

Measuring the objects, the researchers were able to extrapolate an estimate of the artist’s height, and it’s rather humble: 5 feet 2 inches tall. 

Today that means Michelangelo could ride most roller coasters, but he’d have trouble reaching the cookies on the top shelf. And he certainly isn’t winning any dunk contests.

It’s worth pointing out, of course, that by the standards of his day—the 15th and 16th centuries—Michelangelo’s height would not have been out of the norm. And, according to the article’s authors, forensic anthropologist Elena Varotto and paleopathologist ​​Francesco Galassi, the measurement squares, roughly, with Giorgio Vasari’s own account of the artist in his indispensable series of Renaissance-era biographies The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1550).

Vasari describes Michelangelo as being of “middle height, wide across the shoulders, but the rest of his body in good proportion.” He was a “very healthy man, thin and muscular,” Vasari wrote. 

Varotto and Galassi’s speculation is just that, though. Michelangelo’s remains, located at the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence, have never been exhumed and studied. There’s also the possibility that the three shoes belonged to a relative of Michelangelo’s rather than to the artist himself. 

Nevertheless, it’s satisfying to think that, for many of us, no matter what we’ve accomplished in life, we can say that we are taller than Michelangelo. 

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