Isaiah, by Michelangelo

This vigorous, balding prophet in late middle age peruses an open scroll as he sits on the other side of the drunken Noah stretched out upon the floor, and directly below Noah's gigantic wine vat. Joel prophesied, "The floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats overflow with wine and oil." As he reads, he turns his head in the direction of the Deluge. Chiefly, Joel is a prophet of disaster, of terrible events on the land, and of the sun and moon darkened in the heavens. Barbieri's little book quoted his words of destruction, and yet of hope: "And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call." This very remnant is saved in the Ark.

Joel is dressed in a soft lavender-gray tunic, like the cloak of the Lord in the Creation scenes, with softer lavender lights and deeper lavender shadows, contrasting with the exquisite blue of the band over his shoulder. The pale yellow of the reading desk is related to the yellow hair of the putto at the right. Joel's hair is a very cool gray, quite different from the warm gray of Isaiah. The delicate, cool, polished skin of the putto at the right is typical of the rather tight figure drawing prevalent throughout the first section of the Ceding. He carries a green book, while the boy on the left holds a book whose sharp cinnamon color, like that of Zechariah's cloak, will be repeated frequently throughout the Deluge.

Very possibly Joel was the first of the prophets and sibyls to be completed. Here and there, he still shows some of the curious spatial and formal discrepancies of the Doni Tondo. Like the head of Joseph in that early painting, his head is unsuccessfully projected in space. Despite the occasional faults of execution, there is an earnestness about the conception of this prophet that echoes St. Peter's quotation of his prophecies after the Pentecost: "Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams."