Photography, Michelangelo and the “stone sickness” in his urine


Since it was born at the beginning of the nineteenth century, photography has been looking at Michelangelo Buonarroti’s three-dimensional masterpieces as a boundless source of beauty and inspiration.


From Eugène Piot, Édouard-Denis Baldus, or the Alinari brothers to Medardo Rosso, Henri Matisse and Carlo Mollino, artists have given their particular interpretation of the lights, shades, surfaces, volume of which Michelangelo’s sculptures are made of. Among the most recent readings we have those of Helmut Newton, Kim Ki Duk, Thomas Struth and Candida Höfer.


A selection of the best photos of Michelangelo’s marbles are now on show in the exhibition “Getting Reacquainted with Michelangelo” at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Florence (until 18 May). Rarely so many “visual” points of view on his work have been gathered together, representing the role the human body had played in his art: a sort of never ending conceptual leit motiv hidden between the real subject of each piece and his private life.


As historians have noted the artist’s body is at the centre of most of the letters Michelangelo wrote to his relatives. Among them is that to his nephew Lionardo Buonarroti, dated 23 March 1549, regarding his gallstone; a kind of illness he called, meaningfully, the “illness of stone”…


[…] io ti scrissi del mio male della pietra il quale è cosa crudelissima. Di poi sendomi stato dato da bere una certa aqqua, m’à fatto gittar tanta materia grossa e bianca per orina con qualche pezzo della scorza della pietra che io son molto migliorato  

September 22, 2014