You could never imagine that the mind behind the Sistine Chapel ceiling or The Starry Night (1889) could conceivably create something atrocious is confounding, but even art history’s experts managed some dire blunders. Let’s look at this in more detail.
Year: ca. 1520–32
Forged to crown Giuliano de’ Medici’s tomb, Night is a stunning allegorical sculpture of a snoozing woman. Like most of Michelangelo’s women, Night has a powerful stature like that of her male counterpart, Day.
The revered Renaissance master was once recognized to hire male models for his female portraits—a common exercise at the time, as a female posing nude was considered disgraceful. Despite Michelangelo’s exquisite dexterity, he was shockingly inept when it came to breasts. Indeed, Night’s chest is so disfigured that in 2000, oncologist Dr. James J. Stark posted a paper hypothesizing that cancer was to blame for her deformity.
Artwork: Stone Operation (Allegory of Touch)
Year: ca. 1624–25
A grotesque trio engaged in what seems to be a suspicious clinical process is illuminated using a wrinkled ancient lady with a candle. She casts a dim light on the patient’s temple as a surgeon dive in with a scalpel, inflicting him to grimace and grip his fists in agony.
Artist: Abraham Mignon,
Artwork: The Overturned Bouquet
Bursting with bright, silken flora, The Overturned Bouquet is an upturned display in which a tipping urn wreaks destruction on what would usually be a tranquil life. Water cascades onto the table as frazzled insects fly off stems, all rendered with top-notch finesse.
Closer inspection displays the gnarly antagonist as a hissing cat, whose clowning with a mousetrap has gone wrong. In distinction with the realism of the vegetation and insects, the cat greater resembles a beastly hybrid animal with the ears of a bat, the nose of a human, and the mouth of a shrieking monkey.
Artist: Francisco de Goya
Artwork: El tío Paquete
He may be viewed as the best Spanish artist of the Romantic period; however, Francisco de Goya does the bulbous headed, scantily toothed Tío Paquete no compliments in this coarsely finished portrait. On the canvas, Goya announced his subject “el célebre ciego fijo”.
An established blind singer and guitarist in Madrid, Tío Paquete posted up behind the church of San Felipe el Real. But following Goya’s portrayal, Tío Paquete, with his manic, laughing face rising in rapid impasto brushstrokes from opaque darkness, was greater sinister than gregarious. The disturbing likeness is linked to Goya’s late “Black Paintings” (1819–23), characterized with the aid of their bleak color palettes and macabre images, which point out the artist’s looming fear of death.
Artisit: Édouard Manet
This sloppy landscape depicts the renowned painter Édouard Manet with his future bride in the lower right-hand nook of the canvas. Their 17th-century costumes nod to Peter Paul Rubens’s Park of the Château de Steen (ca. 1632–35), in which the powerful Flemish painter is posed next to his wife.
In Manet’s canvas, fishermen work in a small vessel on the river, whilst a boy nonchalantly casts a line on some distance bank. In the background, a curiously stupid rainbow pours into a far-off village marked by a tall steeple. While peripheral vegetation and timber in this arcadian scene were crafted with element and care, the disproportionate scale and impossibly clean terrain of the central composition renders Fishing so weak, it seems unfinished.