Biagio da Cesena

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Biagio da Cesena
Papal Master of Ceremonies
Personal details
DenominationRoman Catholic

Biagio Martinelli (Cesena 1463 – Rome 1544), better known as Biagio da Cesena (meaning "from Cesena", his native city), was a 16th-century Italian official who served as Papal Master of Ceremonies. He is widely known for his negative reaction to the nude figures presented in Michelangelo's painting of The Last Judgment.

In 1518 da Cesena became Papal Master of Ceremonies to Pope Leo X. He would also act in this role to Popes Adrian VI, Clement VII, and Paul III.[1]

After the completion of The Last Judgment da Cesena said of the fresco, "it was mostly disgraceful that in so sacred a place there should have been depicted all those nude figures, exposing themselves so shamefully". Da Cesena went on to say the painting was more suitable "for the public baths and taverns" than a Papal chapel. In response, Michelangelo worked Cesena's face into the scene as Minos, judge of the underworld (far bottom-right corner of the painting) with donkey ears (i.e. indicating foolishness), while his nudity is covered by a coiled snake. It was widely said that when Cesena complained to Pope Paul III, the pontiff joked that his jurisdiction did not extend to hell and the portrait would have to remain.[2]


  1. ^ Land, Norman E. (Summer 2013), "Source: Notes in the History of Art", A Concise History of the Tale of Michelangel and Biagio da Cesena, Ars Brevis Foundation, Inc., Vol 32 (Num 4), JSTOR 41955680
  2. ^ Reported by Lodovico Domenichi in Historia di detti et fatti notabili di diversi Principi & huommi privati moderni, "Papa Paolo Terzo", (1556), p. 698-699 (misnumbered by the printer as "668" - the numbering on the pages goes "... 697, 668, 669...