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Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling

Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling

Article by Clayton Cogmon Jr.

Just about everyone knows about the great sculptor Michelangelo. However, it was very surprising to discover that not too many people know that this great sculptor was also a great painter; his most famous painting (or should I say paintings), was the nine paintings on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. These paintings are considered cornerstone works of High Renaissance art.

Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling

The Sistine Chapel ceiling was painted between the years 1477 and 1480. The project was given to Michelangelo by Pope Julius II. Michelangelo was very reluctant to accept this project given the fact that he was primarily a sculptor and had not painted in fresco ( a technique of mural painting executed upon freshly laid lime plaster) in around twenty years. He also stated that: “Painting was for women.” The Pope however, was insistent, so Michelangelo was forced to accept the strenuous project.

Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling

During the process of painting the ceiling, Michelangelo experienced many setbacks; some of which were: deducing how he would be able to reach the ceiling, inexperience in fresco painting, and back and neck injuries. Another recurring problem for Michelangelo was that he was painting in a chapel. This being the case, he would have to wait long hours for religious services to end before he could continue his work.

Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling

While painting the ceiling Michelangelo faced many distractions as well. One being The Pope himself, constantly requesting to see the ceiling before it was ready. Michelangelo denied this many times due to his stubbornness. He refused to let anyone see an unfinished artwork from him. He once blocked the latter that led to the first scenes so The Pope couldn’t climb up. Also, he was starting to become the victim of sabotage from his main competition at the time: Raphael.

Raphael was another appreciated painter who, it is said, to have felt envious to Michelangelo for receiving the project. On several occasions, Raphael tried to convince The Pope that he would be much more suited for the task. It is even said that Raphael was able to sneak a peek at Michelangelo’s early work. Still, even with the bickering from the impatient Pope and sabotage from Raphael, Michelangelo continued his painting, ignoring all attempts to ruin his focus.

After three and a half years of painting the chapel ceiling, the end result couldn’t have been more expected. Nine paintings containing scenes from The Book of Genesis beautifully painted upon the chapel ceiling, the most famous being The Creation of Adam, equaled only by Leonardo da Vinci’s prized Mona Lisa.

Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling

When The Pope saw the paintings he was overjoyed and complimented Michelangelo’s skill with excitement, but soon after The Pope changed his mind. He wanted to see more gold and offered many other changes to ‘improve’ the paintings. Michelangelo, understandably, was furious, and refused to change a single detail stating it was perfection.

Michelangelo’s work as a painter and sculptor are still very well known today and considered by some the best there is. There is no question that his work will continue to inspire and motivate artists for years to come.

Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling

Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling

Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling

Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling

Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling

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This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. surpar says:

    Thank you for your very interesting article about Michelangelo and the Sistine Ceiling. There is a great movie called “The Agony and the Ecstasy”, brilliantly acted by Charlton Heston as Michelangelo, released in 1965. The film depicts the period you have described in your article.

    Worth seeing this movie if you have not seen it already.

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