The Sistine Chapel Ceiling Frescoes - Michelangelo Buonarroti

The ceiling of Sistine Chapel, 1508-1512, Fresco, 13.7 x 39 m, Vatican.


The Sistine Chapel in the Vatican was built by Pope Sixtus IV in the 1470s. In the chapel, there were six windows on both long walls, the altar, and two windows on the entrance wall. The holy place was used as a gathering place for the archbishops to choose and celebrate, especially the new Pope. Between 1481-1483, Pope Sixtus IV equipped the chapel with frescoes. He commissioned Italy's most famous painters for this work. Chapel; Botticelli, Perugino, Signorelli, Cosimo Rosselli, and Michelangelo's first master, Ghirlandaio, worked and illustrated the walls of the space. Thus, in the sidewalls of the chapel, a series of pictures about the life of Moses and Jesus Christ were depicted with the most important popes in the divisions between the windows on the upper side. The ceiling was bare yet. In 1508, Pope  Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to make the ceiling frescoes of the chapel. Michelangelo, who considers himself a sculptor rather than a painter, unintentionally accepted the job. The ceiling of the chapel was approximately 13.5 meters high and was covered with a barrel vault. Michelangelo would work, was about 14 meters in width, and 41 meters long. In this work, Michelangelo worked alone on the scaffold he had built himself and completed this enormous study of more than three hundred different figures between 1508 and 1512.


The scenes were designed to be read from the altar to the door in sequence. But Michelangelo had started with the opposite side. In a way, he had worked contrary to the historical sequence of events. As the dimensions of the figures that Michelangelo worked on approached to the altar, he grew up and was decorated with dynamic and strong expressions.


The stories described in the nine main scenes were divided into three groups, each with three compositions, from the altar to the entrance of the chapel. The first three groups represented the creation of the world. Although the first stage of the narrative was "The Separation of Darkness with Luminous", this scene was the last of the paintings on the ceiling. Then "The Creation of the Sun and The Moon" and "The Separation of Waters and Land" themes were processed. The second trilateral group following these scenes was about the creation of humanity and the story of Adam and Eve. Here Michelangelo continued with the "Creation of Adam" scene. In a single picture, he described the creation of Eve. He was followed by the composition of the First Sin and Paradise exodus, depicted in two separate scenes. The third group, which was then towards the entrance of the chapel, was the story of Noah's prophet. The story began with "Noah's Sacrifice". Then he ended up with the scenes of "Tufan" and "Noah's Drunkenness". These stories taken from the Bible were illustrated in five small and four large spaces on the successive ceiling. Michelangelo had placed a strong, athletic, four-naked figure known as the gnudi scattered on the sides of small spaces. These figures carried bronze medals in their hands, with veils, floral ornaments, and other stories depicted. The figures depicted with flowers wreaths on their heads were placed on a marble floor. Michelangelo also depicted an of figures of men and women depicting Jesus' ancestors in the Gospel at the top of the window-top compartments the windows.


Michelangelo placed the figures of the Old Testament prophets in the vault beginnings between the windows on both walls of the chapel. He also depicted the figures of the female priests believed to have foretold the future of Jesus. He painted all these people as a powerful male and female figures sitting on marble benches, deep in thought, reading, writing, discussing, or listening to the sound coming from within. The marble benches where the figures sit are decorated with children's pictures. All these figures were sculptures and had strong muscles. He showed these figures which were much larger than the real human dimensions in various postures, dressed in different clothes, and turned into beautiful fabrics. Michelangelo, the five Sibyl, and seven prophets painted on the ceiling, from the altar to the door of the chapel; He depicting the figures of "Jeremiah Prophet", "The Persian Sibyl", "Ezekiel Prophet", "The Erythraean Sibyl " and "Joel Prophet. He placed the figure of Zechariah Prophet above the door of the chapel. He painted, on the opposite side of the figures depicted, "The Delphic Sibyl", "Isaiah Prophet", "The Cumaean Sibyl", "Daniel Prophet" and "The Libyan Sibyl". The last figure in the chapel was "Jonah Prophet", who was at the top of the altar.


Michelangelo described the scenes in a triangular area, which was a difficult picture format in the corner sections of the chapel, called "pendentive" architectural terminology, with masterly and spatial volume. The four "pendentive" on the ceiling was adorned with four stories of the "Old Testament". The pendants on the altar part of the chapel included "Punishment of Haman" and "The Brazen Serpent". In the pendentives on the entrance door of the chapel, he described the scenes of "David Beheading Goliath" and "Judith Beheading Holofernes."


This giant ceiling composition in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel was the greatest work ever made. After he completed the ceiling paintings, in 1536, Pope Paul III, upon the will of, would begin painting on the wall behind the altar with the theme of "The Last Judgment".


The Sistine Chapel: Nine Main Scene - Michelangelo Buonarroti

The Sistine Chapel: Prophets and Sibyls - Michelangelo Buonarroti



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