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. Despite having completed his masterful statue David four years earlier, he had little experience as a painter, even less working in the delicate medium of fresco, and none with challenging curved surfaces such as the Sistine ceiling's vaults. The temperamental Michelangelo was himself reluctant: He stormed away from Rome, incurring Julius's wrath, before he was eventually persuaded to begin.
Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling recounts the fascinating story of the four extraordinary years he spent laboring over the twelve thousand square feet of the vast ceiling, while war and the power politics and personal rivalries that abounded in Rome swirled around him. A panorama of illustrious figures intersected during this time-the brilliant young painter Raphael, with whom Michelangelo formed a rivalry; the fiery preacher Girolamo Savonarola and the great Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus; a youthful Martin Luther, who made his only trip to Rome at this time and was disgusted by the corruption all around him. Ross King blends these figures into a magnificent tapestry of day-to-day life on the ingenious Sistine scaffolding and outside in the upheaval of early-sixteenth-century Italy, while also offering uncommon insight into the connection between art and history.
Almost 500 years after Michelangelo Buonarroti frescoed the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the site still attracts throngs of visitors and is considered one of the artistic masterpieces of the world. Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling unveils the story behind the art's making, a story rife with all the drama of a modern-day soap opera.
The temperament of the day was dictated by the politics of the papal court, a corrupt and powerful office steeped in controversy; Pope Julius II even had a nickname, "Il Papa Terrible," to prove it. Along with his violent outbursts and warmongering, Pope Julius II took upon himself to restore the Sistine Chapel and pretty much intimidated Michelangelo into painting the ceiling even though the artist considered himself primarily a sculptor and was particularly unfamiliar with the temperamental art of fresco. Along with technical difficulties, personality conflicts, and money troubles, Michelangelo was plagued by health problems and competition in the form of the dashing and talented young painter Raphael.
Author Ross King offers an in-depth analysis of the complex historical background that led to the magnificence that is the Sistine Chapel ceiling along with detailed discussion of some of the ceiling’s panels. King provides fabulous tidbits of information and weaves together a fascinating historical tale. --J.P. CohenFrom the Inside Flap :
?There is no other work to compare with this for excellence, nor could there be,? wrote Vasari in his Lives of Artists .
The extraordinary story behind Michelangelo?s masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel - from the author of the acclaimed Brunelleschi?s Dome.
In 1508 Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Though he considered himself primarily a sculptor not a painter, he laboured over it for the next four years and the result was one of the greatest masterpieces of all time.
Ross King?s fascinating new book tells the story of those four extraordinary years. Battling against ill health, financial difficulties, domestic problems and inadequate knowledge of the art of fresco, Michelangelo created figures so beautiful that, when they were unveiled in 1512, they stunned the onlookers. From Michelangelo?s experiments with the composition of pigment and plaster to his bitter rivalry with Raphael, who was working on the neighbouring Papal Apartments, Ross King paints a magnificent picture of day-to-day life on the Sistine scaffolding and outside in the upheaval of early sixteenth-century Rome.
From the Hardcover edition.