Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum

The Sistine Chapel is located in the Vatican Museum, positioned at the end of the tour just before exiting. The famous ceiling by Michelangelo was much more overwhelming in person than a picture could ever portray. The best way to describe the chapel is to mention the almost one thousand tourists from one hundred different nationalities filling the Chapel taking endless amounts of pictures that are clearly forbidden. One can not help; however, but to forget the infinite amounts of tourists and have their eyes fixated on these enormous frescoes.
Michelangelo (Buonarroti) was originally commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1508 to repaint the ceiling which initially had a fresco of golden stars on blue sky; the fresco was completed in November, 1512. He painted the Last Judgment over the altar, between 1535 and 1541, in this case he was commissioned by Pope Paul III. Michelangelo painted with the intent of using powerful bright pigments in the paint so that it could clearly be seen from the floor. The triangles around the border of the ceiling depict the 40 ancestors of Christ; above this he alternated male and female prophets, including, Jonah above the altar; the center of the ceiling is filled with nine stores from the old testament book of Genesis, beginning with the Creation. What is particularly interesting is to understand that its comprised of three distinct sections as discussed: ancestors, prophets, and Genesis scenes. Within each one of these three sections there is another division of three. This is believed to prove Michelangelo’s personal Neoplatonic beliefs, as Neoplatonism consisted of a several systems of three. This shows how some of the Renaissance artist began to weave some of their own ways of thinking into the powerful Catholic commissions on the arts at the time.
Also found in the many frescos around the walls of the Sistine Ceiling, is Perugino's fresco, the Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter. The scene is a reference to the bible passage in which the "keys" to heaven are given to not only St. Peter but to the entire fellowship of believers. These keys represent the power to forgive and to share the word of God thereby giving them the power to allow others into heaven. The fresco is significant for its contributions in perspective drawings, as it was one of the earliest depictions of successful one-point perspective.

No comments: