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Biagio Stinks! Michelangelo Says So.




















Biagio Da Cesena confronted the artist in the chapel's nave just as the sun was rising.  Michelangelo
often worked through the night and left at dawn for a nap before returning in the afternoon.  Biagio knew he would be assured of a private talk.


Biagio found the artist standing in front of the altar
fresco, contemplating it.


"Scuze, signore Michelangelo, I must have a word with
you this morning."


Michelangelo startled, turned and regarded Biagio with a scowl.


"Oh! It is you, Cesena!  Be quick, I have to finish this section before the plaster goes."


Biagio stepped up to where Michelangelo stood and spoke as he stared at the the nearly finished painting. 
Biagio was appalled. Such hideousness! Such vulgarity! It soured his stomach.


"I will come quickly to the point, signore.  You must change the figure of Minos."
Biagio pointed at the portion where Minos leered, his finger stiff, but
shaking. "There!"


Michelangelo raised a brow. "Oh really?  And why would I do that?"


"Because I ask you to." Biagio said in a voice quivering with rising anger.
"You have used my face as the model for that terrible demon!  I am deeply angered and insulted. You must change it - you WILL change it."


Michelangelo calmly stared at Biagio for a few seconds then spoke perfunctorily.


"No.  I'm sorry for your anger, but I will not change any part of the picture for anyone but
myself.  Besides, what makes you think that is your face up there?"


Biagio walked up to the offending figure and turned profile to match the painted face.  He pointed.


"See?  See? It is obvious!  It is my face! do not deny it!"


Biagio shuffled from foot to foot, vibrating with rage.


"I warn you artist.  If you do not change this figure, this irresponsible use of my visage,I shall have His Holiness fire you and replace you with your apprentice Raphael.  Everyone says the student is surpassing the master and I am sure His Eminence could be persuaded to replace you with an artist of young Raphael's obvious taste and superior capabilities!"


Biagio was now red in the face and his eyes bulged slightly.  Michelangelo, looking at the model standing next to the painting could not help but admire his own ingenuity. He had captured this repulsive little toad perfectly.  He had even gotten the angry red tones of the face correct.  He laughed.  Michelangelo's laugh was like the braying of a donkey, the result of not being accustomed to much laughter in his days as an artist painting this wretched chapel.


"Raphael!" Michelangelo screamed.  He squinted at Biagio and pointed his own
finger in the officious little turd's face.


"You think His Holiness would replace me with my second best apprentice?  I wish you luck in that endeavor, signore.  This image I have painted will remain as it is.  It is not you. Do not flatter yourself. Great Minos deserves a better face than yours.  Now go!  I must work!"


"Great Minos' you say?" Biagio blustered.
"Blashpemer! Here in the heart of the Lord's house you blaspheme!  You laugh at God while you paint vulgar cartoons in HIs church! You shall pay artist!  I go now! You will soon hear from His Holiness himself about his...this filth!"


The ugly little troll stomped out.  Michelangelo screamed again for his
apprentice.


"Raphael!"


From directly behind him came a small voice,
"Yes master?"


For the second time that morning Michelangelo jumped out of
his skin.


"Damn you, boy!  I told you not to do that!"
Michelangelo handed the small, waif-like teen a bucket of brushes coated with paint and hardened plaster.


"Get these cleaned and back to me within the half hour!" 
He pointed at a corner of the room that was covered with a paint spattered canvas curtain.


"And empty those chamber pots out.  Something didn't go down right last night and I filled every one with night soil.  The stench is distracting me."


The boy looked at the corner then looked back at Michelangelo with a gleam in his eye the artist didn't like.  He brained the apprentice with his palette and kicked him in the arse for good measure. 


"Go, damn you! And be quick before this plaster dries or by God I'll skin your cock for
a change purse!"


The boy skittered out carrying the bucket and one nearlyfull chamber pot that slopped down the front of his tunic and onto the floor as he made his way out of the chapel.  Michelangelo went back to painting, humming a nonsense tune as he worked.  Later on, the apprentices commented upon the Master's rare good humor and all took turns basking in his cheerfulness. 


All except for Raphael, who spent the day far away from the Master dreaming of the coming day when he
would be free of the tyrant and be able to make his own way in the world. 


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