(b. 1475, Caprese, d. 1564, Roma)


Fresco, 400 x 380 cm
Cappella Sistina, Vatican

God allows the youthful Jonah, the seer of Nineveh whom he rescued from the belly of the whale within three days - the time between Christ's death and his resurrection, - to challenge him in his bold nakedness, The figure mocks every law of composition and perspective. Michelangelo conceived Jonah as an Old Testament Prometheus touched by grace and presents us with a solution to the riddle of good and evil. An artist, himself a rebellious Titan, proffers a solution that spells deliverance in what may be the grandest piece of dialectical theology ever stated in terms of art. The rebellious Prophet, whom God would not have otherwise, looks up directly at his self begetting and affirming Maker. In his expression, scorn and rebellion are giving place to joy, delight, love and filial response, and the ecstatic contemplation of God. The monster of the sea, the calabash tree of the texts, and the turbulent genii form an animated background, unusually bucolic and idyllic for Michelangelo.