The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is one of the most impressive works of art of all time.
In the Sistine Chapel worked some of the great artists of the Renaissance, but the frescoes of Michelangelo Buonarroti are undoubtedly the most famous.
This post contains an explanatory video.
The work, commissioned by Pope Julius II, was carried out between 1508 and 1512.
A record time if we consider its extension, the complexity of the pictorial program and the technique used. The technique of “fresco” painting requires enormous skill and ability in organizing the artist’s work.
Michelangelo’s paintings reveal his genius and technical skills.
His well-known preference for sculpture is also evident.
Powerful human figures with defined anatomical details are the evidence of this.
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What do the ceiling paintings of the Sistine Chapel represent?
The most well known and repeatedly replicated panel is the one that represents the Creation of Adam.
This is only one of the 9 central panels that represent scenes from the Book of Genesis and are organized as follows.
Looking at these 9 center panels, from left to right.
The first 3 represent Noah.
- The Drunkenness of Noah ( Génesis 9,20-27).
- The Flood (Génesis 6,5-8,20)
- The Sacrifice of Noah (Génesis 8,15-20)
The 3 in the center represent the creation and perdition of Adam and Eve.
- Original Sin and Banishment from the Garden of Eden (Génesis 3,1-13)
- Creation of Eve (Génesis 2,18-25)
- Creation of Adam (Génesis 1,26-27)
The 3 panels on the right side represent Creation.
- Separation of Land from Sea ( Génesis 1,9-10)
- Creation of the sun, moon and planets (Génesis 1,11-19)
- Separation of Light from Darkness ( Génesis 1,1-5)
See how Michelangelo painted this scenes on the Sistine Chapel Ceiling.
The Sistine Chapel ceiling is arguably one of the most impressive works of art that are part of this space.
More than the architectural structure itself, it became an exponent of pictorial art, as we will see below.
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The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is part of the artistic monumental wealth of the Vatican.
More important than the architecture, the chapel is one of the exponents of the history of painting, which transformed the severe and almost bare structure into a precious pinacoteca of Italian Renaissance painting between the 15th and 16th centuries.
However, the Sistine Chapel’s celebrity is not only due to the masterpieces it houses, but also to the fact that the conclave to elect the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church is held here.
It was built by order of Pope Sixtus IV (origin of the name), in 1473, by the architect Giovanni de’ Dolci.
The project was intended to be closed and inaccessible from the outside, almost fortified, and was dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption.
When in 1503 Pope Julius II, nephew of Sixtus IV, was elected, he was determined to restore the Vatican to its past splendor, using art to achieve fame and a place in history.
Although its exterior structure is extremely simple, and its interior has only an altar and a transept, it is the pictorial decoration that enriches and enhances it.
The side walls are decorated with primitive compositions by various painters, and the ceiling and altar wall are the support of Michelangelo’s masterpieces.