Friday, February 11, 2011

Italy! Sistine Chapel!

The Sistine Chapel is in Vatican City. The Sistine Chapel was commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV, from whom it derives its name, in 1475. It was designed to be - and still is - the pope's chapel and the site of papal elections. The Sistine Chapel was consecrated and dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin on August 15, 1483. Michelangelo was asked to paint the Twelve Apostles and a few ornaments on the ceiling of the chapel. But as he began work on the project, Michelangelo conceived grander designs and ended up painting more than 300 figures. He worked on the project between 1508 and October 31, 1512, in cramped conditions high on a scaffolding and under continous pressure from the pope to hurry up. The project would permanently damage the artist's eyesight. Michelangelo was in his 60s when he was called back to the chapel, again against his wishes, to paint The Last Judgment  on the altar wall. The work was commissioned by Pope Clement VII  shortly before his death, and Clement's successor, Pope Paul III Farnese , forced Michelangelo to complete it quickly. It was the largest fresco of the century and is still an unquestioned masterpiece. The Sistine Chapel was originally divided into two equal sections, a nave for the laity and a presbytery for the clergy, by a marble screen and the pattern of floor mosaics. In later years, the screen was moved to make the nave smaller and the presbytery much larger. The walls are decorated with frescoes by Renaissance masters and are divided into three horizontal levels.

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