The Sistine Chapel & Michelangelo
- The Sistine Chapel was built in the Vatican between 1473 and 1481, on order of Pope Sixtus IV, and dedicated on August 15th, 1483, the Feast of the Assumption. It is the Pope’s private chapel.
- It was decorated by a number of the most famous artists of the High Renaissance, including Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Pietro Perugino, and Michelangelo.
- The interior measures 134 ft long by 44 ft wide, which are the dimensions of the Temple of Solomon, as given in the Old Testament.
- The ceiling was commissioned by Pope Julius II and painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512. He painted a series of nine pictures showing God’s creating the world, His relationship with mankind, and mankind’s fall from grace. He also painted side paintings of 12 men and women who prophesied that God would send Jesus for the salvation of mankind, and the ancestors of Christ.
- The paintings in the chapel are frescos, meaning they were painted in wet plaster, which makes them extremely long lasting and durable.
- These paintings were Michelangelo’s first time working in plaster, but they are considered some of the greatest achievements of western painting.
- Michelangelo was intimidated by the scale of the works to be done, over 5,000 square feet, because he thought of himself more of a sculptor than painter, and wanted to decline the commission. He also was suspicious that such a large-scale project was being offered to him by enemies as a set-up for an inevitable fall.
- To get high enough to work he created a flat wooden platform on brackets built out from holes in the wall that allowed him to stand (not lay down) while painting.
For more information:
7 Things You May Not Know About the Sistine Chapel – History.com
The Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s masterpiece – NationalGeographic.com Magazine