Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel Term Paper

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Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel

This work has been and truly is a beacon of our art, and it has brought such benefit and enlightenment to the art of painting that it was sufficient to illuminate a world which for so many hundreds of years had remained in the state of darkness. And, to tell the truth, anyone who is a painter no longer needs to concern himself about seeing innovations and inventions, new ways of painting poses, clothing on figures, and various awe-inspiring details, for Michelangelo gave to this work all the perfection that can be given to such details. (Web Gallery of Art, 2012)

The Sistine Chapel is one of the most well-known works of art in the world. It was painted by Michelangelo Buonarroti. In Italian, its name is Cappella Sistina and in Latin its name is Sacellum Sixtinum. The paper will focus upon the chapel, but more specifically to the ceiling of the chapel, which is considered a masterful work in of itself. The paper will contextualize the creation and provide analysis of the content. The Sistine Chapel is a work of art that has great significance in with respect to art history and with respect to Christianity. The chapel with the famous ceiling is located in Vatican City, Italy. It is more than five centuries old and has been restored well so as to keep the legacy of the artist and the meaning of the work preserved.

The Sistine Chapel as well as the ceiling specifically, was a vast undertaking for the artist. This piece took years to imagine, visualize, and prepare for, let alone create. The chapel serves as a Papal enclave; it is a space specifically dedicated for use by Popes and those closest to the Popes. One of the primary religious functions of the Chapel is to hold elections of the succession of popes, held in a conclave of the College of Cardinals. The ceiling itself is approximately 5,000 square feet or 460 square meters. If putting oneself in the position of the artist, one could readily imagine what an arduous mental and physical undertaking the chapel and the ceiling are, yet the reward for such efforts is readily obviously as well.

The project was physically and emotionally torturous for Michelangelo. Michelangelo recounts its effect on him with these words: "After four tortured years, more than 400 over life-sized figures, I felt as old and as weary as Jeremiah. I was only 37, yet friends did not recognize the old man I had become." & #8230;In order to prepare for this enormous work, Michelangelo drew numerous figure studies and cartoons, devising scores of figure types and poses. These awesome, mighty images, demonstrating Michelangelo's masterly understanding of human anatomy and movement, changed the course of painting in the West. (Michelangelo.com, 2012)

Michelangelo was a changed man because of this work. He relied upon previously established artistic techniques and skills, as well as starkly demonstrated his prowess for painting and subtext. The chapel is a wondrous and stunning work of art. The ceiling of the chapel is a supreme condensation of Christian beliefs and reflections upon the world. The ceiling is a text to be read and interpreted. As with a great deal of masterful works of art, each detail and element of the painting on the ceiling has meaning, with respect to content, color, light, size and/or proportion, positioning, movement and other aspects.

The Chapel was built in the late part of the 15th century. Michelangelo's painting on the ceiling took four years to complete. He painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling from 1508 -- 1512. He painted it at the request or commission of Pope Julius II. The content of the ceiling is the rendering of nine significant scenes from the Bible, specifically from the Book of Genesis.

Michelangelo's inspirational, biblical images covering the Sistine Chapel's ceiling were imbued with a special significance due to the immediacy of the pope. For this reason, his artwork took on the significance of religious icons, which to this day inform the public notion of biblical imagery and theological meaning. (New World Encyclopedia, 2012)

One of the most famous scenes on the ceiling is the Creation of Adam. The chapel, the…[continue]

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