|Michelangelo's Isaiah (Sistine Chapel)|
When Norman Rockwell wanted to symbolize American fortitude during World War II, he chose a riveting model: young Mary Doyle Keefe from Arlington, Vermont.
Rockwell later wrote to Keefe, calling her “the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen and apologizing for the hefty body in the painting.”
This “hefty body” was not just a figment of Rockwell’s imagination. It was one that he, and the world at large, was quite familiar with. This was the body of Michelangelo’s Isaiah, famously displayed in the Sistine Chapel.
Now Rosie's not holding the Book of Isaiah, nor is a cherub perched near her shoulder; nevertheless, her bodily resemblance to the depicted great prophet is a striking one.
Wikipedia reports that Rockwell is not the only artist to borrow from Michelangelo’s Isaiah. The renowned painter Caravaggio is another.
Isaiah might have been proud of the non-idolatrous way in which the Arlington folks related to their local celebrities. Keefe, who recently died at age 92, had explained: People didn’t make a big deal about [such] things back then.
Copyright April 29, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved