Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel and All Saints’ Day

hands-of-god-and-adam

Today is All Saints’ Day (also known as All Hallows, Solemnity of All Saints or The Feast of All Saints) celebrated on November first by parts of Western Christianity, and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Christianity. It honors all saints, known and unknown. It is also the second day of Hallowmas and begins at sunrise on the first day of November and finishes at sundown. It is the day before All Souls’ Day.

The Writers’ Almanac
informs me that it is also the day that Pope Julius II chose back in 1512 to display Michelangelo’s paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for the first time.

Michelangelo, 33 at the time,  had worked for four years on the paintings which are scenes from the Old Testament, including the famous center section, “The Creation of Adam.” The chapel itself was only 25 years old and other painters had been commissioned to paint frescoes on the walls.

When he was given the commission to paint by the Pope, he tried to point out that he was a sculptor, and not really a painter. The Pope insisted and Michelangelo attempted to use his sculpting experiences  to make the two-dimensional ceiling look like a series of three-dimensional scenes. This was a new technique at that time and working from a scaffold 60 feet above the floor, he painted about 10,000 square feet of surface. Every day, fresh plaster was laid over a part of the ceiling. Then Michelangelo had to finish painting that section before the plaster dried.

Incredible.

creation
Michelangelo’s ‘The Creation of Adam’ with Four Ignudi at the Sistine Chapel

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Ken

A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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