Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Sistine Chapel (2 of 3)

On August 15th 1483, the Chapel was consecrated by Pope Sixtus IV on the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Paintings in the Sistine Chapel date back to the 15th and 16th century. The best known works were created by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, and again between 1535 and 1541 on the west wall behind the altar. The original barrel vault ceiling was painted by Piermatteo Lauro de' Manfredi da Amelia, and his decoration was that of golden stars swirling in a deep blue sky, destroyed in 1508 when Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to work on nine new frescoes depicting God's creation of the world, God's relationship with mankind, and mankind's fall from God's grace. Michelangelo's paintings would cover the entire vault, a massive surface area which exceeded 1000 square metres. The Sistine Chapel ceiling is widely regarded as the ultimate expression of High Renaissance art. Renaissance master Michelangelo took four years to complete the Sistine Chapel ceiling. His nine frescoes depict nine stories from the book of Genesis, each represented in the central section. "Ignudi" (naked men) holding vegetal festoons surround each one with twelve "diviners" beneath (seven prophets of Israel and five sybils). The squinches (pendentives) are embellished with the four "miraculous salvations of Israel"; Judith and Holofernes, David and Goliath, the Bronze Snake, and Haman’s Punishment. Twenty four years later, Michelangelo would continue his work and paint his Last Judgement on the wall behind the altar. Learn more about the Sistine Chapel on our small group Vatican tours :-)

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