Email from David Schildkret

Subject: Comment on one of your articles
From: David Schildkret
Date: 03/14/2011 5:56 PM

In looking for other information, I encountered your article, “Images at Work Versus Words at Play,” which you begin with a speculation that the portrayal of God in Michelangelo’s “Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Plants” from the Sistine ceiling may have to do with Exodus 33:23.

I thought you might be interested to know that this a long-held opinion. Bernardino Cirillo, a functionary in the Catholic Church in Rome in the mid-1500s, mentioned that passage in reference to Michelangelo’s painting in a 1549 letter to Ugolino Gualteruzzi. The letter is reproduced in Strunk’s Source Readings in Music History as an important document in the debate concerning the proper nature of church music. You can see the book here:

The passage referring to Michelangelo is at the top of page 371.

Given that this is a comment made in a publicly published letter that was written while Michelangelo was still alive, I think you are on very safe ground in your conjecture. Indeed, it’s clear from the letter that churchmen of the time made the connection. I think you could elevate your comment from speculation to fact, based on this reference.

David Schildkret

David Schildkret

Professor of Choral Music
Arizona State University School of Music

Director of Music
Scottsdale United Methodist Church

Music Director
Mount Desert Summer Chorale, Bar Harbor, ME