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Spitz, R.A. (1952). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXII, 1951: Postscript to My Paper on the Moses of Michelangelo (1927). Sigmund Freud. P. 94.. Psychoanal Q., 21:580-581.
    
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXII, 1951: Postscript to My Paper on the Moses of Michelangelo (1927). Sigmund Freud. P. 94.

(1952). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 21:580-581

International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXII, 1951: Postscript to My Paper on the Moses of Michelangelo (1927). Sigmund Freud. P. 94.

R. A. Spitz

This postscript is Freud's report on the discovery of confirmatory evidence of his earlier interpretation of the Moses of Michelangelo.

In 1914, an article with the title Der Moses des Michelangelo was published anonymously in the journal Imago. The editors justified the publication by stating that 'the author, who is personally known to them, belongs to psychoanalytic circles, and … his mode of thought has in point of fact a certain resemblance to the methodology of psychoanalysis'. The editors were vindicated when in 1924 Freud acknowledged his authorship of the article by including it in the first edition of his collected writings (Gesammelte Schriften, Vol. X, pp. 257–286) and one year later in the fourth volume of his Collected Papers. In this article Freud investigates a work of art without any reference to psychoanalytic terms or findings. He approaches it rather with the help of two basic psychoanalytic tools introduced by him, namely the genetic and the dynamic viewpoints. The results are gratifying: an understanding of the work of art is achieved which had not been possible to the art historian with the help of the traditional historical or æthetic approach.

The conclusions Freud drew are: 'What we see before us is not the inception of a violent action but the remains of a movement that has already taken place'. He adds further that it is 'a concrete expression of the highest mental achievement that is possible in a man, that of struggling successfully against an inward passion for the sake of a cause to which he has devoted himself'.

This is not the place to elaborate an obvious parallel, namely how very closely that which Michelangelo's Moses represents resembles that which Freud achieved in his own work and life.

The finding of a statuette of Moses attributed to Nicholas of Verdun, 1180 A.D., representing Moses in a state of violent emotion, confirms Freud's assumption that Michelangelo's Moses is conceived in a later stage in which his rage

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has already abated and only the remains of his emotion are still visible. Nicholas of Verdun's statuette shows Moses in a storm of passion, head thrown back, violently grasping his beard. Michelangelo's Moses has got hold of himself, the storm is over. Only the last evanescent traces of the subsiding anger are in evidence. Yet with their help Freud's vision reconstructed the happenings pictured in the earlier stattuette.

In his 'Postscript' Freud welcomes this confirmation. To the present reviewer this is an encouragement to continue studies in the pursuit of which, to quote Freud, the 'mode of thought has in point of fact a certain resemblance to the methodology of psychoanalysis'.

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Article Citation

Spitz, R.A. (1952). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXII, 1951. Psychoanal. Q., 21:580-581

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