Michelangelo & the Pope's Ceiling

Michelangelo & the Pope's Ceiling

Book - 2003
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In 1508, despite strong advice to the contrary, the powerful Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo Buonarroti to paint the ceiling of the newly restored Sistine Chapel in Rome. Four years earlier, at the age of twenty-nine, Michelangelo had unveiled his masterful statue of David in Florence; however, he had little experience as a painter, even less working in the delicate medium of fresco, and none with the curved surface of vaults, which dominated the chapel's ceiling. The temperamental Michelangelo was himself reluctant, and he stormed away from Rome, risking Julius's wrath, only to be persuaded to eventually begin.
Michelangelo would spend the next four years laboring over the vast ceiling. He executed hundreds of drawings, many of which are masterpieces in their own right. Contrary to legend, he and his assistants worked standing rather than on their backs, and after his years on the scaffold, Michelangelo suffered a bizarre form of eyestrain that made it impossible for him to read letters unless he held them at arm's length. Nonetheless, he produced one of the greatest masterpieces of all time, about which Giorgio Vasari, in his Lives of the Artists, wrote, "There is no other work to compare with this for excellence, nor could there be."

Ross King's fascinating new book tells the story of those four extraordinary years. Battling against ill health, financial difficulties, domestic problems, inadequate knowledge of the art of fresco, and the pope's impatience, Michelangelo created figures--depicting the Creation, the Fall, and the Flood--so beautiful that, when they were unveiled in 1512, they stunned his onlookers. Modern anatomy has yet to find names for some of the muscles on his nudes, they are painted in such detail. While he worked, Rome teemed around him, its politics and rivalries with other city-states and with France at fever pitch, often intruding on his work. From Michelangelo's experiments with the composition of pigment and plaster to his bitter competition with the famed painter Raphael, who was working on the neighboring Papal Apartments, Ross King presents a magnificent tapestry of day-to-day life on the ingenious Sistine scaffolding and outside in the upheaval of early-sixteenth-century Rome.

Publisher: New York : Walker & Company, c2003.
ISBN: 9780802713957
0802713955
Branch Call Number: 759.5 Kin
Characteristics: 373 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 25 cm.

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m
mawhyyouare
Jul 26, 2017

I did a trip to Rome in 2014 and visited the Vatican and i wish I had read this book before that trip, I would have had a greater appreciation to what I was looking at in the Raphael rooms and Sistine chapel and what both Michelangelo and Raphael went through. Now I want to go back and re-see them.

Vincent T Lombardo Oct 01, 2015

Very well written and concise history of how Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel.

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671books
Apr 25, 2015

Great great book. For anyone interested in the history and the church, give this book a read. Full review is here: http://671books.net/non-fiction/michelangelo-and-the-popes-ceiling/

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 31, 2014

The drama of the painting of the Sistine Ceiling during the reign of the morally and politically corrupt Pope Julius II is told in great historical detail. Michelangelo and his assistants laboured for four years to create one of the greatest masterpieces of the Western world. Worried by personal misfortune, fierce competition with Raphael and harassment from the Pope, he nevertheless was able to complete this stunningly beautiful work of art.

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