Who Painted the Sistine Chapel?

One of Italy’s most cherished landmarks, the Sistine Chapel is a breathtaking marvel for any kind of traveller. It is one of the top tourist destinations in the entire country, bringing over 5 million visitors a year. The largest chapel in the Vatican City, it is famous for the frescos smattering the walls and ceilings of the inside. A testament to the immense skill of History’s greatest artists.

The birth of the Sistine Chapel

The chapel’s birth date was in the 1470s, and it stands on the foundation of the ancient Cappella Magna. The Pop Sixtus IV commissioned this older chapel to be restored, resulting in the end project to be renamed after him. During this production, the Chapel was decorated by painters Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Pinturicchio, and Cosimo Roselli. The ceiling was a simple painting of blue sky with stars scattered around. The Pope Julius II requested an embellishment to the Chapel’s decoration in 1508, commanding Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, more commonly known as just Michelangelo, to complete this revamp. Michelangelo’s fame had grown exceptionally at that point, with his past works, including his famous ‘David’ masterpiece, a huge success. However, Michelangelo was a sculptor and preferred to mould materials rather than using a brush and had little experience painting. To persuade him, the Pope offered a commission of 40 sculptures for his tomb. The painting lasted until 1512, and caused such a strain on Michelangelo, that it permanently damaged his eyesight.

The Paintings

As Michelangelo was new to painting frescos, he asked some of his painter friends to help teach him. However, after seeing their style of painting, he dismissed them and quickly made his own. The design of the ceiling was first thought to be of the Twelve Apostles but was dismissed by Michelangelo after he stated it would not be grand enough. He then designed a vast painting of three hundred figures, all coming together to illustrate Man’s time on earth before the coming of Jesus Christ. Each section of the ceiling is covered, with different sections including the centre ceiling series, the pendentives, prophets, and the ancestors. Each section displays a part of the overall story, for example, the centre of the ceiling depicts a series of nine scenes, Illustrating the Story of Creation, the Downfall of Humanity as well as the Story of Noah. It wasn’t until 1535 that Michelangelo started to create The Last Judgment. It is one of their most recognisable paintings throughout the world, playing a significant role in past artists, inspiring and motivating history’s great artists to produce their prize pieces.

The fantastic decorations of the Sistine Chapel have made it one of the most popular tourist attractions within the whole of Italy. The stunning pieces make that crick in your neck worth it to see the incredible detail of the ceiling frescos famous worldwide.

Check out our Vatican City and Sistine Chapel Tour today!

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