Michelangelo

Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel (Cappella Sistina) is a chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope, in the Vatican City. Its fame rests on its architecture, which evokes the Temple of the Old Testament, and its decoration, frescoed throughout by the greatest Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo, whose ceiling is legendary. The Sistine Chapel is considered to be the greatest artistic creation in the history of mankind. Michelangelo could possibly be the greatest artist who has ever lived. His paintings in Sistine Chapel, the triumph of Renaissance humanist ideal, have changed the meaning of art forever.

The Ignudi

The Ignudi (singular: ignudo, from the Italian adjective nudo, meaning "naked") are the 20 athletic, nude male figures that Michelangelo painted at the four corners of the five smaller scenes of Creation. Because they were not relevant to the themes of the piece, Michelangelo's ignudi outraged several pontiffs.

Most of the figures are surrounded by a huge garland of oak leaves, and clustered about them are thousands of acorns resembling the penis, or "prickhead", in Tuscan slang (testa di cazzo). The most likely reason for their abundance is that Pope Julius II, who commissioned the work, was of the della Rovere family: they function as, perhaps, Michelangelo's allusion to his patron.

There are many speculations about the meaning of the ignudi, none of them definitive. Considering that Michelangelo regularly employed male models even for his female figures, they could represent Michelangelo's concept of the human potential for perfection. Again, this could be interpreted through the classical Greek view that "the man is the measure of all things".

  1. Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 1 (1510)
  2. Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 2 (1510)
  3. Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 3 (1510)
  4. Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 4 (1510)
  5. Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 5 (1510)
  6. Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 6 (1510)
  7. Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 7 (1510)
  8. Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 8 (1510)
  9. Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 9 (1510)
  10. Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 10 (1510)
  11. Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 11 (1510)
  12. Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 12 (1510)
  13. Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 13 (1510)
  14. Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 14 (1510)
  15. Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 15 (1510)
  16. Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 18 (1510)


Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 1 (1510)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 1 for your computer or notebook. ‣ The picture shows the Ignudo at the lower left corner of the Drunkenness of Noah (above the prophet Joel).

The figures of ignudi in this group bear garlands of oak leaves and acorns - allusions to the Della Rovere family - and ribbons passing through the frames of the large gilded medallions.

Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 2 (1510)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 2 for your computer or notebook. ‣ The picture shows the Ignudo at the upper left corner of the Drunkenness of Noah (above the prophet Joel).

The figures of ignudi in this group bear garlands of oak leaves and acorns - allusions to the Della Rovere family - and ribbons passing through the frames of the large gilded medallions.

Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 3 (1510)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 3 for your computer or notebook. ‣ The detail shows the head of the Ignudo at the upper left corner of the Drunkenness of Noah (above the prophet Joel).

Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 4 (1510)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 4 for your computer or notebook. ‣ The picture shows the head of the Ignudo at the lower right corner of the Drunkenness of Noah (above the Delphic Sibyl).

Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 5 (1510)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 5 for your computer or notebook. ‣ The picture shows the head of the Ignudo at the upper right corner of 1he Drunkenness of Noah (above the Delphic Sibyl).

Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 6 (1510)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 6 for your computer or notebook. ‣ The picture shows the Ignudo at the lower left corner of the Sacrifice of Noah (above the Erythraean Sibyl).

The ignudi in the third bay are painted with greater fluency and the modeling is more delicate - with greater attention being paid to the reflections and the subtle effects of light and shade - than those of the first bay. Moreover, their poses are no longer wholly symmetrical. In fact, in the two figures on the left, only the lower part of the body is symmetrical, while the twisting of the bust and the head are expressions of contrapposto. The right arms of both are, however, extended toward the centre in order to hold the ribbon supporting the medallion. On the other hand, the ignudi on the right lean out toward the exterior, and the only difference between them appears to be the position of their arms.

Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 7 (1510)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 7 for your computer or notebook. ‣ The picture shows the Ignudo at the upper left corner of the Sacrifice of Noah (above the Erythraean Sibyl).

The ignudi in the third bay are painted with greater fluency and the modeling is more delicate - with greater attention being paid to the reflections and the subtle effects of light and shade - than those of the first bay. Moreover, their poses are no longer wholly symmetrical. In fact, in the two figures on the left, only the lower part of the body is symmetrical, while the twisting of the bust and the head are expressions of contrapposto. The right arms of both are, however, extended toward the centre in order to hold the ribbon supporting the medallion. On the other hand, the ignudi on the right lean out toward the exterior, and the only difference between them appears to be the position of their arms.

Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 8 (1510)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 8 for your computer or notebook. ‣ The picture shows the Ignudo at the lower right corner of the Sacrifice of Noah (above the prophet Isaiah).

The ignudi in the third bay are painted with greater fluency and the modeling is more delicate - with greater attention being paid to the reflections and the subtle effects of light and shade - than those of the first bay. Moreover, their poses are no longer wholly symmetrical. In fact, in the two figures on the left, only the lower part of the body is symmetrical, while the twisting of the bust and the head are expressions of contrapposto. The right arms of both are, however, extended toward the centre in order to hold the ribbon supporting the medallion. On the other hand, the ignudi on the right lean out toward the exterior, and the only difference between them appears to be the position of their arms.

Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 9 (1510)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 9 for your computer or notebook. ‣ The picture shows the Ignudo at the upper right corner of the Sacrifice of Noah (above the prophet Isaiah).

The ignudi in the third bay are painted with greater fluency and the modeling is more delicate - with greater attention being paid to the reflections and the subtle effects of light and shade - than those of the first bay. Moreover, their poses are no longer wholly symmetrical. In fact, in the two figures on the left, only the lower part of the body is symmetrical, while the twisting of the bust and the head are expressions of contrapposto. The right arms of both are, however, extended toward the centre in order to hold the ribbon supporting the medallion. On the other hand, the ignudi on the right lean out toward the exterior, and the only difference between them appears to be the position of their arms.

Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 10 (1510)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 10 for your computer or notebook. ‣ The picture shows the Ignudo at the lower left corner of the Creation of Eve (above the prophet Ezekiel).

In the four ignudi of the fifth bay who hold the yellow ribbons interwoven with the bronze-coloured medallions, the use of contrapposta with a variety of gestures and poses has now been replaced the symmetrical arrangement of figures. The relationship between the figures, placed opposite each other in pairs, is based on increasingly free and complex rhythmical correspondences, with rotating movements and pronounced bendings of the limbs.

Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 11 (1510)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 11 for your computer or notebook. ‣ The picture shows the Ignudo at the upper left corner of the Creation of Eve (above the prophet Ezekiel).

In the four ignudi of the fifth bay who hold the yellow ribbons interwoven with the bronze-coloured medallions, the use of contrapposta with a variety of gestures and poses has now been replaced the symmetrical arrangement of figures. The relationship between the figures, placed opposite each other in pairs, is based on increasingly free and complex rhythmical correspondences, with rotating movements and pronounced bendings of the limbs.

Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 12 (1510)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 12 for your computer or notebook. ‣ The picture shows the Ignudo at the lower right corner of the Creation of Eve (above the Cumaean Sibyl).

In the four ignudi of the fifth bay who hold the yellow ribbons interwoven with the bronze-coloured medallions, the use of contrapposta with a variety of gestures and poses has now been replaced the symmetrical arrangement of figures. The relationship between the figures, placed opposite each other in pairs, is based on increasingly free and complex rhythmical correspondences, with rotating movements and pronounced bendings of the limbs.

Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 13 (1510)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 13 for your computer or notebook. ‣ The picture shows the Ignudo at the upper right corner of the Creation of Eve (above the Cumaean Sibyl).

In the four ignudi of the fifth bay who hold the yellow ribbons interwoven with the bronze-coloured medallions, the use of contrapposta with a variety of gestures and poses has now been replaced the symmetrical arrangement of figures. The relationship between the figures, placed opposite each other in pairs, is based on increasingly free and complex rhythmical correspondences, with rotating movements and pronounced bendings of the limbs.

Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 14 (1510)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 14 for your computer or notebook. ‣ The picture shows the Ignudo at the lower right corner of the Separation of the Earth from the Waters (above the prophet Daniel).

The poses of the pairs of ignudi become gradually more dynamic and agitated. The two above the Persian Sibyl (at the left) bend backward in opposite directions, while one of those above the prophet Daniel (at right) bends forward, casting an apprehensive glance at the viewer, and the other raises his arm in a movement reminiscent of Hellenistic sculptures of dancing fauns.

Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 15 (1510)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 15 for your computer or notebook. ‣ The picture shows the Ignudo at the upper right corner of the Separation of the Earth from the Waters (above the prophet Daniel).

The poses of the pairs of ignudi become gradually more dynamic and agitated. The two above the Persian Sibyl (at the left) bend backward in opposite directions, while one of those above the prophet Daniel (at right) bends forward, casting an apprehensive glance at the viewer, and the other raises his arm in a movement reminiscent of Hellenistic sculptures of dancing fauns.

Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 18 (1510)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, The Ignudi, Ignudo 18 for your computer or notebook. ‣ The picture shows the Ignudo at the upper left corner of the Separation of Light from Darkness (above the prophet Jeremiah).

The poses of the four ignudi are very different from each other, without any attempt being made to obtain an effect of symmetry. Thus, the one above Jeremiah at the left, with a classical profile and a meditative attitude, contrasts sharply with the ungainly movement of the one the right, who laden with foliage and acorns, is throwing himself forward, his face in the shadow. On the opposite side, the two figures bend toward the centre, but with their torsos heads rotating in opposite directions with clearly distinct movements, splendidly rendered thanks to the artist's skilled use of perspective.

Quotes

Giorgio Vasari:

Goethe:

Werner Herzog:


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Articles

Art Encyclopedia A world history of art in articles.
      Renaissance
            Michelangelo
                  Art, life and biography.
                  Michelangelo's David.
                  Michelangelo's Pieta.
                  Sistine Chapel. High Renaissance Masterpiece.
                  Sistine Chapel. Book of Genesis.
                  Sistine Chapel. The Ignudi.
                  Sistine Chapel. Seven Prophets.
                  Sistine Chapel. Five Sibyls.
                  Sistine Chapel. Lunettes.
                  Sistine Chapel. Pendentives.
                  Sistine Chapel. The Ancestors of Christ.
                  Sistine Chapel. The Last Judgement.

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