Alexander Nagel

Alexander Nagel’s books include Michelangelo and the Reform of Art. His next one will be about orientation in Renaissance art.

Matters of State: Michelangelo and ‘David’

Alexander Nagel, 4 February 2016

In December​ 1520, the abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux paid a visit to Florence on his way to Rome. Approaching the seat of government in the Piazza della Signoria, he stopped in front of Michelangelo’s 15-foot David. He didn’t see in it a symbol of the Florentine nation or even identify the figure. For the abbé, it was ‘a great phantasm of white...

In Praise of Power: Bernini the Ruthless

Alexander Nagel, 3 January 2013

‘Self Portrait’ (1635)

Franco Mormando has a lot to tell us about Gian Lorenzo Bernini and the Rome of his day, but one lasting lesson is that just about everyone who knew him hated him. The harshest criticism came from his mother, who in 1638 wrote an exasperated letter to Pope Urban VIII’s nephew, Cardinal Francesco Barberini. Bernini had got into a murderous rage...

Typically, the first job of the art historian is to slot a work of art into its proper place in time, in the corpus of the artist who made it and in the context of the world that informed its...

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