The Sistine Chapel is a chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope, in Vatican City. Originally known as the Cappella Magna, the chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored it between 1477 and 1480.
Since that time, the chapel has served as a place of both religious and functionary papal activity. Today it is the site of the Papal conclave, the process by which a new pope is selected. The fame of the Sistine Chapel lies mainly in the frescos that decorate the interior, and most particularly the Sistine Chapel ceiling and The Last Judgment by Michelangelo. Source [WikiPedia]
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Interesting Facts About Sistine Chapel
- The Paintings Were Commissioned by Pope Julius II
In 1508, Pope Julius II (also known as Giulio II and “Il papa terribile”), asked Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling. Julius was determined that Rome should be rebuilt to its former glory, and had embarked on a vigorous campaign to achieve the ambitious task.
- Michelangelo Painted Over 5,000 Square Feet of Frescoes
The ceiling measures about 40 meters (131 feet) long by 13 meters (43 feet) wide. Although these numbers are rounded, they demonstrate the enormous scale of this nontraditional canvas. In fact, Michelangelo painted well over 5,000 square feet of frescoes.
- The Panels Depict More Than Just Scenes From the Book of Genesis
The ceiling’s well-known central panels depict scenes from the Book of Genesis, from the Creation to the Fall to shortly after Noah’s deluge. Adjacent to each of these scenes on either side, however, are immense portraits of prophets and sibyls who foretold the coming of the Messiah.
- The Paintings Took Four Years to Finish
It took Michelangelo a little over four years, from July of 1508 to October of 1512, to finish the paintings. Michelangelo had never painted frescoes before and was learning the craft as he worked. What’s more, he chose to work in buon fresco, the most difficult method, and one normally reserved for true masters. He also had to learn some wickedly hard techniques in perspective, namely painting figures on curved surfaces that appear “correct” when viewed from nearly 60 feet below.
- Michelangelo Didn’t Really Paint Lying Down
Although the classic film “The Agony and the Ecstacy,” depicts Michelangelo (played by Charlton Heston) painting the frescoes on his back, the real Michelangelo didn’t work in this position. Instead, he conceived and had constructed a unique scaffolding system sturdy enough to hold workers and materials and high enough that mass could still be celebrated below.
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