Sat | Dec 4, 2021

Letter of the Day | Misinterpretation of governor general’s insignia

Published:Friday | June 26, 2020 | 12:07 AM


WE HAVE a problem with intellectual spin doctors, who offer opinions that are not based on facts, but rather, a revisionist of history that doesn’t have integrity.

The painting that appears on the governor general’s insignia is of the archangel Michael subduing Satan who is burning in flames, representing hell. Not a black man, as misinterpreted by those who don’t read or examine art.

The artwork comes from the period in human history when Italian artists painted their own images; hence the arrival of the white Jesus by persons known as famous artists during that time.

It was the painter Raphael who first visited the subject of the archangel Michael at the behest of Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino. The miniature was completed in 1504 or 1505 on the back of a draughtboard, possibly commissioned to express appreciation to Louis XII of France for conferring the Order of Saint Michael on Francesco Maria I della Rovere, Urbino’s nephew and heir.

A little more than a decade after completing the little St Michael, Raphael was commissioned to revisit the theme, producing St Michael Vanquishing Satan for Pope Leo X.

Raphael’s contemporary, Sebastiano of Venice, wrote to Michelangelo suggesting that the figure looked smoky or made of iron because of the exaggerated contrast between the two sides.

This may have been the hand of Giulio Romano, who, according to art historian Eugène Müntz, overused black in a heavy-handed fashion to “obtain a more powerful effect”.

To deal with colouring issues, the painting was restored in 1537-1540 by Francesco Primaticcio. Following further restoration in 1685, it was transferred from the original wood to canvas in 1753.

Yes! #Blacklivesmatter can cloud our judgement; and having overdone steak can now be interpreted as racism.


Mandeville, Manchester