Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475 – 1564), best known as Michelangelo, was arguably the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance. He specialized in sculpture, painting, and architecture, amongst other fields. An archetypal Renaissance Man, Michelangelo’s most famed works – including the Pieta, David, Sistine Chapel ceiling, and Basilica – are recognizable the world over.
“The Torment of St. Anthony” is Michelangelo’s earliest known painting, accomplished when he was only 13-years-old. The work’s authorship was previously contested, since it is in imitation of prints by previous artists. It was only after the painting was sold in 2008 that close examination revealed the unmistakable stylistic hand of Michelangelo.
The board features St. Anthony tempted by demons in the desert. This common medieval subject typically emphasizes St. Anthony’s triumphant ascent over the hoard. Michelangelo instead portrays jagged, animalistic demons beset upon St. Anthony from all sides. The painting is strongly Gothic, closer in style to the artistic styles which predate Michelangelo.