Moses of Michelangelo


It is possible, therefore, that a work of art of this kind needs interpretation, and that until I have accomplished that interpretation I cannot come to know why I have been so powerfully affected. I even venture to hope that the effect of the work will undergo no diminution after we have succeeded in thus analyzing it.

Sigmund Freud, 1914

Curator's Comments

Freud felt the need to combine the pleasures of intellectual understanding and aesthetic appreciation. His "reading" of Michelangelo's statue deals with the sculptor's intention and with the attempt by the subject, Moses, to control his angry reaction to the infidelity of his followers. This control and this anger are things with which the founder of psychoanalysis seemed to identify.

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