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The Michelangelo Mystery Of The 33rd Tooth

An Italian art historian has pieced together a little-known element in the Renaissance master's portraits and sculptures that he believes may explain Michelangelo's deepest beliefs.

Michelangelo's "Sybil" in the Sistine Chapel (detail)
Michelangelo's "Sybil" in the Sistine Chapel (detail)
Alberto Mattioli

ROME — The sketch of The Damned Soul in Florence's Uffizi Gallery has it. The Grotesque Heads; Hercules and Antaeus in the British Museum have it too. There's also the "ugly Cleopatra" and the torturer raising the cross in The Crucifixion of St. Peter in the Vatican's Paolina Chapel, as well as many figures in the Sistine Chapel: Jonah, the Delphic Sybil, four Jews who inveigh against Moses and Yahweh in the Israelites and Bronze Serpent, the damned on Charon's boat, and a devil in The Last Judgment.

Renaissance art aficionados probably know by now that we're talking about Michelangelo, and some may even recognize the connection in this case — a small, strange characteristic that unites a certain type of character in his works: All these figures have a fifth incisor, or "mesiodens." This isn't something the artist invented, but an unusual anatomical feature.

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Tokyo citizens shield themselves from the heat as Japan faces its worst heat wave ever recorded.

McKenna Johnson, Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Салом!*

Welcome to Friday, where at least 19 die as Odessa is hit by Russian missiles overnight, Israel gets a new (interim) prime minister and the world’s most famous cycling race kicks off in Denmark. And in French daily Les Echos, Clara Le Fort reports on the surprising trend of using clay as a building material in modern architecture.

[*Salom - Uzbek]

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