I was clicking around online looking for something else in the New Yorker, which is kind of great to have online, and I clicked on the Michaelangelo’s first painting link.
Here it is—in all its glory—supposedly painted when our hero was 12 or 13. And whatever Shjeldahl wants to say about it being juvenile, it’s still better than I could ever think about doing ever, or probably than most contemporary artists could do if locked in a room with a paint-by-number of it (IMHO), as this was a copy of an etching. Then again, people had less distraction and more time to just paint. They probably didn’t have as much stimulus in a lifetime as we have in a day. And how twisted was the Gothic mind? Look at those creatures! Literal torment—wackadoo hedgehog winged fish lizard bedevilments.
Anyhow, in the blurb, Shjeldahl says Michaelangelo would blench. I have always heard blanch, so I looked it up. Turns out blench means to shrink, or flinch, while blanch means, simply, to turn pale. So I guess, though I thought blench was something you did politely after too much barbeque, it turns out you can blanch and blench at the same time. Learn something new every day. Bedeviling.