(b. ca. 1450, Cortona, d. 1523, Cortona)

The Damned (detail)

Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto

We have to isolate the individual details in order to grasp the greatness of Signorelli the 'illustrator' and the 'inventor'. For example, in this detail, the demon attacking a young woman from behind, biting her ear, and she does not appaear to mind all that much.

And Luca Signorelli has portrayed himself as a devil, too: with just one horn in the middle of his forehead, he is embracing a beautiful blonde who is trying to break away from his fiery assault.

One can't help imagining that this rather unusual self-portrait must be a reference to some episode in Signorelli's private life, something that we know nothing about, but which must have been public knowledge in both Cortona and Orvieto at the time. Probably the story of a woman who was unfaithful to the painter: and in fact, if we look carefully we can see that this is the same woman portrayed as the sinner being carried off by the flying demon, as the woman being grabbed from behind by the other demon, and even as the prostitute being paid by the old merchant in the scene of the Antichrist's Sermon.