The Sistine Chapel, Vatican City

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    A shrine of beauty

    by Escadora7 Updated Jul 8, 2005

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    Sistine chapel - a work of art

    The Sistine Chapel (Italian: Cappella Sistina) takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV who had the old Cappella Magna restored during the 15th century. Michelangelo Buonarroti was entrusted the work of painting the ceiling as well as the alter wall where he painted the Last Judgement. This is where the conclave (pope election) and other official ceremonies are held, including some papal coronations.

    Eva and I remember walking into this room filled with awe at the amazing myriad of color and talent. The chamber was packed with travellers, both young and old; some praying, some resting in the cool confines of the chapel while others just marvelled at the grandeur of it all.

    There were hushed tones and whispers which slowly and inevitably would rise a few decibals and every now and then a guard would walk into the room and quell the sound with a 'Silencieux!'. The voices would ebb into quiet murmurs and the entire process start all over again. We rested ourselves on one of the benches that were aligned towards the sides of the walls and time suddenly seemed to stand still. A very enriching experience.
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    Creation of Eve

    by Escadora7 Updated Sep 17, 2005

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    Can you spare a rib?

    "And the God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs...And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman..."

    According to the bible, God created man from the dust of the ground, then blew the breath of life into his body. Eve on the other hand was made from a rib of Adam, and that is the reason to this day there is a misconception that the man has one rib less than the woman, the truth being both share an equal number of ribs viz. 24. :)

    In this panel, the Creator seems to have an intense gaze, and Eve appears to rise from the rocks behind Adam rather than from his body, extending her joint hands. The bodies of the couple appear to be those of adolescents. More is indicated here than mere physical creation: it is the concept of the female mirror-image drawn forth from the sleeping Adam.

    I had read somewhere that the portraits of God as athletic, muscular, flowing beard and dominant are taken from the image of Zeus, the greek mythological God, but have found no further documents that backed this theory. If any of you have any good sites, please feel free to write in.

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    Separation of Light from Darkness

    by Escadora7 Updated Jul 8, 2005

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    Turn on the lights!

    "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.....And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that [it was] good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day." [Genesis 1:1-5]

    Though smaller in size than the other panels, this painting is still sublime in conception, dominated by the centralized figure of God in a pink flowing robe, tearing through brownish murky darkness on one side and white whispy light on the other, symbolizing the origin of the universe.
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    Separation of the Earth from the Waters

    by Escadora7 Updated Jul 8, 2005

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    One-quarter for man; three-quarters for the fish

    "And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry [land] appear: and it was so. And God called the dry [land] Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas" [Genesis 1:9-10]

    This fresco depicts a stage prior to the creation of man. Once again the dominating figure of God the Father with his long flowing white beard and powerful hands fills almost the entire space of the panel, moving, almost floating above the waters.

    However, panel 2 and 3 seem to be reversed, since according to the book of Genesis, the Separation of earth from the waters was before the creation of the sun, moon and the planets, which makes me wonder once again what 'Michelo' was thinking. I guess we will just have to wait for the Genesis equivalent of the Creation of a Time Machine to be able to go back and ask him?

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    The Fall and Expulsion from Garden of Eden

    by Escadora7 Updated Jul 8, 2005

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    The first out-standing (out-going?) christians :)

    "The serpent said to the woman: 'Did God say: 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?'. And the woman said to the serpent: 'We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die'. But the serpent said to the woman: 'You will not die! ... you will be like God, knowing good and evil'. So the woman ... took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband.....The Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden ... he drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life" [Genesis 3:1-24]

    In the 6th central panel, Michelangelo illustrates simultaneously Original Sin and the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, two moments that are separated in the bible tale, thus showing together the cause and the effect generated.

    The two episodes are separated by the tree of good and evil, around which the female temptress is wrapped. She is offering the forbidden fruit to Eve.

    On the other side of the panel the couple, hunted by an angel with an unsheathed sword, leave the Garden of Eden, pained and bent under the burden of remorse for the sin committed.

    It is wondered whether the tree which forms a giant M, was intended to be Michelangelo's signature. To the left of the frescoe, the Garden of Eden indicates excess while to the right, total desolation.

    What's more striking is that that the cherub with the raised sword pointing the way out, appears a twin of the tempter and, like her, comes from the Tree of Life. Good and Evil have divided and become a dual power.

    [Definition ~
    Cherub = A representation of a small angel, portrayed as a child with a chubby rosy face.]

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    The Flood

    by Escadora7 Updated Nov 25, 2005

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    A 40 day shower to wash you away!

    "And God said to Noah: 'I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; ... For in seven days I will send rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground ... And after seven days the waters of the flood came upon the earth" [Genesis 6:5 - 7:20]

    How many times as kids have we heard the story of Noah and his ark? Well this scene depicts the flood in all its drama. Ever been in a shower for 40 days and nights? Well thats exactly what the artist was trying to capture here. The flood was considered to denote baptism, while the Ark was the symbol for the Church itself. Three different patterns of human behaviour are depicted here: the righteous take refuge in the Ark (the Church), the damned attempt to criticise it, and others are lost due to their excessive attachment to worldly things.

    In the foreground of the fresco, people seek to flee from the threat of the rising waters by crowding onto the rocky islet on the right or by wearily climbing up to the high ground on the left. Amazingly, this deluge seems to be a dry affair, with not much water around. Michelo has concentrated on the plight of the figures, not the destructive forces of nature. This lack, noticeable in many of Michelangelo's drawings is a logical one. He sees all passion and torment, all toil and victory in human terms; for him it is not the event itself which is decisive but its effect on those who experience it, expressed in movement and gestures.

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    Michelangelo paints a ceiling that dazzles

    by Escadora7 Updated Jul 8, 2005

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    Ceiling Frescoe - click to enlarge

    The central part of the ceiling is divided into 9 panels, depicting the Stories of Genesis, divided into groups of 3: from the creation to the fall of man, followed by the flood and the subsequent rebirth of mankind with the family of Noah.

    The panels have been divided as follows -

    ~ Separation of Light from Darkness
    ~ Creation of the sun, moon and planets
    ~ Separation of Land from Sea
    ~ Creation of Adam
    ~ Creation of Eve
    ~ Original Sin and Banishment from the Garden of Eden
    ~ Sacrifice of Noah
    ~ The Flood
    ~ Drunkenness of Noah

    The first 3 panels are dominated by the figure of God, the creator of the Universe. These are followed by the figures of the first man and woman in their nakedness (4th and 5th panel), symbolizing innocence, which will be lost with Original Sin, shown in the next panel together with the resulting banishment from the Garden of Eden. The last three panels show the fall of mankind and its rebirth with Noah, chosen by God as the only man to be saved for repopulating the earth after the Creator had decided to destroy every living creature in it because of human evil.

    Besides the above, there are also
    highly decorative paintings of prophets and sibyls.

    [Definition ~
    Prophet = Person through whom the will of a God is expressed; predictor; soothsayer.
    Sibyl = A woman prophet]
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    The roof of the Sistine Chapel

    by Diana75 Written Feb 3, 2007

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    The roof of the Sistine Chapel

    The Sistine Chapel is not only famous for the inside painting, but also for the roof.

    A small part of it can be seen on the right flank of the basilica and from here the famous puffs of smoke announce the decision of electing a new pope.

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    Cappella Sistina (The Sistine Chapel)

    by Diana75 Written Feb 5, 2007

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    The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
    1 more image

    Wanted by Pope Sisto IV della Rovere, which also gave it his name, was built by Giovannino de Dolci between 1475 and 1481.

    Perugino, Botticelli, Signorelli and Ghirlandaio contributed to the realization of the artificial draperies in the style of 1400 of the walls.

    The chapel was dedicated to the Lady of the Assumption and consecrated in 1483, but shortly after its modification was assigned to Michelangelo.

    Michelangelo painted new episodes extracted from the book of the Genesis:
    • Separation of light and darkness
    • The Creation of the stars and the plants
    • Separation of the land and water
    • Creation of Adam
    • Creation of Eva
    • Original sin and expulsion from the Earthly Paradise
    • Sacrifice of Noe
    • Universal Deluge
    • Ebriety of Noe

    The most important work of Michelangelo was completed in 1512, and Giulio II inaugurated a second time the Sistine Chapel with a solemn mass.

    In 1533 Michelangelo was again charged to modify the decoration of the Sistine Chapel by painting on the wall of the altar, at the place of some frescoes of Perugino, the Universal Judgment.

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    Creation of Adam

    by Escadora7 Updated Jul 8, 2005

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    Let there be man?

    "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth... So God created man in his [own] image..." [Genesis 1:26-27]

    The fourth scene in the chronological order of the narrative, the Creation of Adam, is depicted in this masterpiece of Michelangelo's work. The focal point of the episode of the Creation of man is the contact between the fingers of the Creator and those of Adam, through which the breath of life is transmitted. God, supported by angels on their wings, in flight and wrapped in a mantle, leans towards Adam, shown as a resting athlete, whose beauty seems to confirm the words of the Old Testament, according to which man was created to the image and likeness of God. Michelangelo's sculptural geniuity coming through in his painting?

    God seems to be encouraging Adam to be no less than himself in this painting and has his left arms encircled around a feminine being. This figure has intrigued commentators from the beginning and has been variously interpreted as the uncreated Eve, or Sophia, divine wisdom.

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    Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Planets

    by Escadora7 Updated Jul 8, 2005

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    Job security for NASA employees

    "And God said: "Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit ... And there was evening and there was morning, a third day....God made the two great lights, the greater lighter to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also...And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day" [Genesis 1:11-19]

    Michelangelo shows the third and fourth day of the Creation simultaneously. In this scene the figure of the Lord appears twice.

    On the left, in fact, God, seen from behind (if you look close, you can see his cute bottom - no harm intended!], still wearing a pink robe, extending his arm towards a bush, alluding to the vegetable world. Here he seems to be summoning forth tufts of grass and the first bushes from the bare earth.

    On the right of the same panel, the majestic figure of the Lord reappears, surrounded by four children (angels?), while, with an imperious gesture of his hands, he points and divides a golden ball of sun and a greyed-out cold moon in the heavens. His expression seems almost to be one of concentration (and a little anger, though I am not sure what was in the artists mind).

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    The Sacrifice of Noah

    by Escadora7 Updated Nov 25, 2005

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    Time for a barbeque!

    Umm in case you were wondering, Michelangelo's family name was .. nopes not Pavrotti, but Buonarroti. (yeah a real tongue twister :P) and he died around 89 years of age in Rome. Anyways time to stop digressing, back to the topic in hand!

    "And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar." [Genesis 8:20]

    This panel depicts a sacrifice, on an alter, giving thanks to the Lord for his salvation from the flood. In the centre of the background, Noah officiates the sacrifice wearing a blood-red tunic. The figures of the youth dragging the ram and the other taking out the intestines of the animals were painted by Domenico Carnevali around 1568, after the original figures were lost as a result of instability in the structure of the wall.

    The work of assistants has been detected in the figure of Noah's wife on his right, and also in the one of the youth on the left (looks more like a lass) who, lighting the fire under the altar with a torch, shields his face from the heat with his hand. The sons of Noah as two athletic attendants, can also be noticed in the painting, more prominent than their father in the background.

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    The Drunkenness of Noah

    by Escadora7 Updated Nov 25, 2005

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    One peg too many?

    "And Noah began [to be] an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. Ham saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren who were without. And Shem and Japeth took a garment, and laid it out upon both their shoulders, and went backward, covered the nakedness of their father, and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness." [Genesis 9:20-23]

    Once again Michelangelo neglected the chronological sequence of the entire Noahs sequence, for Noah's offering should have come directly after the flood, and then the drunkeness of Noah. Currently the panel displaying the offering is before the flood.

    Noah asleep and mocked by his sons is the last fresco that meets our eyes. It is said that Noahs sleep was due not to an overdose of wine but to human loss of spiritual memory; to the hypnotic sleep of man oblivious to his origin. The sons who stripped and ridiculed him do not know what they are doing and understand neither themselves nor their fate. The vat of wine in the centre dominates the entire scene.

    As a footnote, whoever said drinking shortens lives probably didnt read the Old Testament. Noah is said to have lived a total of nine hundred and fifty years. :P Hic Hic Hoorray!

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    Vatican's Best

    by IIGUANA Written Feb 17, 2005

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    Michaelangelo's Judgment Day @ Sistine Chapel

    Forget about Saint Peter's. Forget about the square, the museums or even the jewels. the Sistine Chapel summarizes all the feelings you might have for the Christian Church. Entering it through a very small door and finding this amazingly beautiful chapel is all you need. Everything is just perfect, just as you read or saw in a book. Everything is painted with a perfection only Michaelangelo could have had. Judgement Day and the Creation of Man are amongst the most famous paintings. But being there and admiring with your own eyes changes everything.
    One thing, DO rent one of those little gadgets that explain everything. It'll help you understand each painting and why it was painted. It helps a lot and makes you get a better idea of what you're watching.
    Since no pictures are allowed in the interior of the chapel, I took the liberty to post this one from www.apocatastasis.com

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    Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

    by GinGinCoo Updated Mar 10, 2004

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    The Creation of Adam, Ceiling of Sistine Chapel

    Pictures are not allowed to be taken in this Chapel so I'm using a postcard pic. A beautiful masterpiece by Michaelangelo who began working on the ceiling frescoes (a total surface of about 520 square meters) on May 10, 1508, the date on the contract he signed with Pope Julius II. He began from the entrance, so he was in effect working backwards with respect to the chronological order of the nine episodes from Genesis depicted in the central part of the ceiling.

    The first scene he painted was the Flood, beginning in Sept 1508. In the three stories from the life of Noah and in the surrounding figures Michelangelo was helped by assistants, while he worked entirely alone on the five Seers, the four Ignudi, the Ancestors of Christ in the spandrels and lunettes, all of which he painted at the same time as the scenes on the ceiling and the stories of David and Judith. After the end of 1509, starting from the scene of Original Sin, Michelangelo got rid of all his collaborators and continued working with the sole assistance of his apprentices; he allowed them to paint the minor elements, such as frames, putti and roundels.
    In August 1510 the first half of the frescoes (from the entrance wall to the Creation of Eve) was finished. After this Michelangelo stopped work for several months. On August 15, 1511, the Feast of the Assumption, the finished part of the ceiling was unveiled. The following year, on All Saints Day (Nov 1), the whole cycle was inaugurated.

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