Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Sistine Chapel Ceiling. An Artistic Vision Without Precedent. (Part One).

Text and Illustrations from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.

Section of The Sistine Chapel Ceiling.
This File: 2 September 2013.
User: Amandajm.
(Wikimedia Commons)

English: Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Українська: Сикстинська каплиця.
Date: 4 травня 2010.
Source: власне фото (by Qypchak).
Author: Мікеланджело; Michelangelo.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Libyan Sibyl,
Date: 1508-1512.
From the Ceiling of The Sistine Chapel.
Source: CGFA.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Sistine Chapel Ceiling, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, is a cornerstone work of High Renaissance art.

The Ceiling is that of The Sistine Chapel, the large Papal Chapel, built within The Vatican between 1477 and 1480 by Pope Sixtus IV, whose namesake The Chapel is. It was painted at the Commission of Pope Julius II. The Chapel is the location for Papal Conclaves and many important Services.

The Ceiling's various painted elements form part of a larger scheme of decoration within The Chapel: Including the large fresco, The Last Judgment, on the Sanctuary Wall, also by Michelangelo; Wall Paintings by several leading painters of the Late-15th-Century, including Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Pietro Perugino; and a set of Large Tapestries, by Raphael, the whole illustrating much of the Doctrine of The Catholic Church.

Sistine Chapel.
The Hands of God and Adam,
from "The Creation of Adam"
(above and below)
Fresco by Michelangelo,
Date: 1509.
Source/Photographer: Web Gallery of Art[1]
Author: Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564).

Central to the Ceiling decoration are nine scenes from The Book of Genesis, of which The Creation of Adam is the best known, having an iconic standing equalled only by Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the hands of God and Adam being reproduced in countless imitations.

The complex design includes several sets of individual figures, both clothed and nude, which allowed Michelangelo to fully demonstrate his skill in creating a huge variety of poses for the human figure, and have provided an enormously influential pattern book of models for other artists ever since.

Pope Julius II was a "Warrior Pope", who, in his Papacy, undertook an aggressive campaign for political control, to unite and empower Italy under the leadership of The Church. He invested in symbolism to display his temporal power, such as his procession, in the Classical manner, through a Triumphal Arch in a chariot, after one of his many military victories. It was Julius who began the rebuilding of Saint Peter's Basilica in 1506, as the most potent symbol of the source of Papal power.

Portrait of Pope Julius II.
Painter: Raphael (1483–1520).
Current location: National Gallery, London.
Source/Photographer: National Gallery, London.
(Wikimedia Commons)

In the same year, 1506, Pope Julius II conceived a programme to paint The Ceiling of The Sistine Chapel. The walls of The Chapel had been decorated twenty years earlier. The lowest of three levels is painted to resemble draped hangings, and was (and sometimes still is) hung on special occasions with the set of Tapestries designed by Raphael.


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