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  • You are in: Home » musei » SIXTINE CHAPEL - Vatican

SIXTINE CHAPEL - Vatican

SIXTINE CHAPEL - Vatican

The private papal chapel, the Sistine Chapel, was completed in 1484 for Pope Sixtus IV and is now used for some papal functions and for the conclave which elects the popes. However it is the best known for two of the most famous works of art in the world: Michelangelo’s wonderful frescoes of the Creation on the barrel-vaulted ceiling, and the Last Judgment on the end wall. Both were restored during the 1980’s and 90s and the rich, vibrant colours used by Michelangelo have been brought back to the surface.

Michelangelo was commissioned by the Pope Julius II to paint the ceiling and, altough very reluctant to take on the job as he never considered himself a painter, he started work on it in 1508. The complex and the grand composition that Michelangelo devised to cover the 800 sq meters of ceiling took him four years to complete. He worked on scaffolding which the restorers believe was inserted into holes under the windows. The restorers also learned much about the way in which the artist worked and how his painting skill developed as he progressed through the great project.

Twenty-four years laters, Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Clement VII to paint the Last Judgment (the pope died shortly afterwards and the work was executed under Pope Paul III). Two frescoes by Perugino were destroyed to make way for the new painting, which caused great controversy in its day. Criticism of its dramatic, swirling mass of predominantly naked bodies was summarily dismissed by Michelangelo, who depicted one of his greatest critics, Paul III’s master of cerimonies, as Minos with the ears of an ass. As with the Creation, the Last Judgment was blackened by candle smoke and incense, but it was also damaged by poor restorations and by the addition of clothes to cover some of the nude figures.
The walls of the chapel were painted by famous Renaissance artists, including Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Pinturicchio and Luca Signorelli. These paintings, which were executed in the late XV century, depict events in the life of Moses and Christ.

 
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