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.

Lunettes

The lunettes form the highest part of the walls of the chapel; they are situated above the upper cornice, below which are the figures of popes frescoed at the time of Sixtus IV. Their vast semicircular surfaces (about 6,5 by 3,4 meters) are interrupted at the centre bottom by the crowns of the window arches and are delimited at the sides by the curves of the pendentives linking the walls to the vault, of which the triangular spandrels form part. It is not known whether they had been decorated before Michelangelo painted the chapel - and, if so, how - since no information in this respect may be gleaned from the watercolour drawing by Pier Matteo d'Amelia showing the original decoration of the vault with a starry sky. In the lunettes (and in the eight smaller triangular spandrels), Michelangelo painted the figures of the Ancestors of Christ according to the sequence of forty generations listed at the beginning of the Gospel of Saint Matthew.

  1. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Achim and Eliud (1512)
  2. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Achim and Eliud (Detail 2) (1512)
  3. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Amminadab (Detail 2) (1512)
  4. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Amminadab (Detail) (1512)
  5. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Amminadabi (1512)
  6. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Joram (Detail 2) (1512)
  7. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Joram (Detail) (1512)
  8. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Azor and Zadok (Detail 2) (1512)
  9. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Azor and Zadok (Detail) (1512)
  10. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Eleazar and Matthan (1512)
  11. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Eleazar and Matthan (Detail 2) (1512)
  12. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Eleazar and Matthan (Detail 3) (1512)
  13. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Eleazar and Matthan (Detail) (1512)
  14. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Hezekiah, Manasseh, and Amon (1512)
  15. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Hezekiah, Manasseh, and Amon (Detail 2) (1512)
  16. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Hezekiah, Manasseh, and Amon (Detail 3) (1512)
  17. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Hezekiah, Manasseh, and Amon (Detail) (1512)
  18. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Jacob and Joseph (1512)
  19. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Jacob and Joseph (Detail 3) (1512)
  20. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Jacob and Joseph (Detail 4) (1512)
  21. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Jacob and Joseph (Detail) (1512)
  22. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Jesse, David, and Solomon (1512)
  23. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Jesse, David, and Solomon (Detail 2) (1512)
  24. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Jesse, David, and Solomon (Detail) (1512)
  25. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Josiah, Jechoniah, and Shealtiel (1512)
  26. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Josiah, Jechoniah, and Shealtiel (Detail 2) (1512)
  27. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Josiah, Jechoniah, and Shealtiel (Detail) (1512)
  28. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Nahshon (1512)
  29. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Nahshon (Detail 2) (1512)
  30. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Nahshon (Detail) (1512)
  31. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Rehoboam and Abijah (1512)
  32. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Rehoboam and Abijah (Detail 2) (1512)
  33. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Rehoboam and Abijah (Detail) (1512)
  34. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Salmon, Boaz, and Obed (1512)
  35. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Salmon, Boaz, and Obed (Detail 2) (1512)
  36. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Salmon, Boaz, and Obed (Detail) (1512)
  37. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz (1512)
  38. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz (Detail 2) (1512)
  39. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz (Detail) (1512)
  40. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Zerubbabel, Abiud, and Eliakim (1512)
  41. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Zerubbabel, Abiud, and Eliakim (Detail 2) (1512)
  42. Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Zerubbabel, Abiud, and Eliakim (Detail) (1512)


Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Achim and Eliud (1512)

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This is the first lunette on the south wall.

The identity of the figures is not certain, and it is not possible to establish which of the two, Achim or Eliud, is the old man with a child next to him on the left, and which the child held by his mother on the right.

The elaborate pose of the old man is very carefully constructed with vigorous twisting of the limbs. The sculptural effect of the figure is largely due to the prominence of the knees and the crossed arms, with the right elbow projecting notably and the hands folded in toward the body. This effect is heightened by the magnificent arrangement of the drapery, especially on the left knee and over the edge of the stone seat.

The meditative attitude of the old man is counterbalanced on the other side of the lunette by the fascinating spontaneity of the woman's gestures. Turning toward her child, she stretches out her arm to take some food from a plate placed on a stool in the foreground.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Achim and Eliud (Detail 2) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Amminadab (Detail 2) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Amminadab (Detail) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Amminadabi (1512)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Amminadabi for your computer or notebook. ‣ "Abraham begat Isaac. Isaac begat Jacob. Jacob begat Judah and his brothers. Judah begat Phares and Serah by Thamar. Phares begat Esron. Esron begat Aram. Aram begat Amminadab. Amminadab begat Nahshon." (Matthew 1:2-4)

There are only two figures, both of young people, in the lunette of Amminadab, the prince of the Levites, opposite the one of Nahshon. The man on the left is depicted frontally, sitting bolt upright with his feet together, his forearms resting on his legs, and his hands tightly intertwined, a gesture that seems to betray great interior tension, as does the expression on his face, with its strongly pronounced lineaments under wiry hair held down with a white scarf. He is wearing a pale green cloak with reddish-orange shadows and tight gray-blue hose. From his ears hang two metal earrings of different shapes.

Like that of Amminadab, and many other figures in the lunettes painted at the end of the second phase of the frescoing of the vault, the position of the woman is uncommon, and was probably drawn from life. She is depicted seated, but turning around, her limbs twisted, and busy drawing an ivory comb through the long blond hair hanging down from her inclined head. The interplay of light and shade lends remarkable vivacity and immediacy to the figure. It is rendered with notable variations in tone on her face, her arm raised in front of her, her hand with the comb, and the foreshortened one holding up her hair, and also over the whole surface of the long rose red tunic and the white cloth spread over her knees.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Joram (Detail 2) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Joram (Detail) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Azor and Zadok (Detail 2) (1512)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Azor and Zadok (Detail 2) for your computer or notebook. ‣ On the right side of the lunette, seen sideways on, but with his head turned toward the viewer, sits a solitary mature man, his face furrowed by deep lines. Tightly wrapped in his yellow ochre mantle, from which only his head and an arm emerge, he appears to be prey to distressing thoughts. The body, modelled concisely with great plastic power by the interplay of light and shade, and the pattern of the folds of the mantle, stands out clearly against the background.

The number of figures present in this lunette is half that of the first lunettes painted by Michelangelo. This sense of isolation intensifies the expressive power of the figure of the pensive man, which some interpreted as being an imaginary self-portrait of the artist.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Azor and Zadok (Detail) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Eleazar and Matthan (1512)

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Eleazar, father of Matthan is generally believed to be the young man on the right. His head is seen in profile, and he appears to be immersed in his thoughts. Behind him are visible the heads of a woman and a child.

In the left part of the lunette, Matthan, in the background, seems to be turning with an expression of astonishment or apprehension toward his wife, who, seated and seen in profile, plays with the child Jacob, who frisks on her knee.

This lunette was probably the first to be frescoed by Michelangelo.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Eleazar and Matthan (Detail 2) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Eleazar and Matthan (Detail 3) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Eleazar and Matthan (Detail) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Hezekiah, Manasseh, and Amon (1512)

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The two main figures, seated and seen in profile, have their backs to each other. The solitary man seated on the right, slumped forward with his face in the shadow - apparently sleeping, but, in reality, probably immersed in anguished meditation - is usually considered to be Manasseh, filled with terrible remorse for having favoured idolatrous cults and persecuted the faithful followers of Yahweh. The young woman on the left is thought to be Meshullemeth, the mother of Amon: her lips half closed, an expression of infinite tenderness on her face, she is totally absorbed in the baby she is holding in her arms, while her feet rock the wooden and wickerwork cradle where another child sleeps. Hezekiah as a child is believed to be depicted in the spandrel above, together with his mother and his father, Ahaz.

Although the two figures appear to be remote from each other, there is a complementary relationship due to the emotional contrast. Thus, the attitude of desolate self abandon of Manasseh is countered by the grace, vitality, and tenderness of the woman.

The delicate range of colours in the clothes of the two figures tone with different scales, but there are precise links: the reddish-rose mantle that envelops the woman below her shoulders, modeled with very light brushstrokes in the parts in the light, is matched, with a slightly paler tonality, by the man's tunic, which is open at the sides.

There is, moreover, greater contrast in the pattern of light and shade in the yellow of the skirt covering the woman's legs and the green of her shirt compared to the colours - which are, however, deeper - of the man's clothes and stockings. On the other hand, the penitential violet-gray cloth that covers the bowed head of Manasseh, falling over the curve of his back, appears to be more delicate in tone than the blue-gray ribbon that is intertwined with a white one in Meshullemeth's elaborate hairstyle.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Hezekiah, Manasseh, and Amon (Detail 2) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Hezekiah, Manasseh, and Amon (Detail 3) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Hezekiah, Manasseh, and Amon (Detail) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Jacob and Joseph (1512)

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At the top of the entrance wall of the chapel, to the right of the viewer, next to the Eleazar-Matthan lunette, there is the one concluding the genealogical sequence of the ancestors of Christ in the Gospel of St Matthew.

Sullen and perplexed, wrapped in a huge yellow ochre cloak and seemingly withdrawn, the old man - generally believed to be Jacob - dominates the family group on the left due to his expressive power and the quality of the colour. Similarly, on the right, the female figure, usually thought to be Mary, is more prominent than the other members of the Holy Family and the child holding a mirror. Behind Mary in the shadow, Joseph holds the Christ child, who stretches out an arm toward the round mirror held out at the height of his face by a naked female child, possibly an allegory of the Church.

The compositional schemes of the two neighbouring lunettes correspond: in both there is a female figure in the foreground seen in full, or half, profile and facing the outer wall of the chapel, and a male figure, on the internal side, with his torso seen frontally.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Jacob and Joseph (Detail 3) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Jacob and Joseph (Detail 4) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Jacob and Joseph (Detail) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Jesse, David, and Solomon (1512)

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The lunette is between the Libyan Sibyl and Daniel.

Traditionally it is believed that David is the principal figure on the left, while Solomon is the child with a veiled head behind him who holds out what may be a ritual offering on a small tray; Bathsheba is the woman on the right. If this is correct, then Jesse must be the child depicted, together with his parents, in the spandrel above.

David's pose - his head and torso are seen frontally, his pelvis and legs are turned slightly to the left - stresses his physical strength and his awesome sense of dominion, and this is accentuated by the contrast with the minute figure of his son and the thin, bent one of the woman.

He is wearing clothes in Oriental style: a green cap-cum-hood hanging down over his shoulders, resembles the Arab kaffiyeh; the upper part of his robe is rose, the lower part yellow. His arms are folded across his chest and, with his left hand, he holds the edge of a white cloth, possibly also having a ritual function, spread over his knees. His hand, modeled with remarkable energy, and the folds of the lower part of the robe, emerge forcefully in the foreground. David's face, partly in shadow under his headdress, expresses great concentration, though he seems to have suddenly noticed something on his left.

More severe tones are used for the clothes of the woman, who, absorbed by her work on a wool-winder, is sitting sideways on and wearing a violet dress, girt above the waist by a green sash, over a white shirt with gray-blue shadows. Her headgear is also grayish, while the only bright touches are provided by the yellow ocher cloth covering the seat, and the red boots visible in the shadow at the bottom.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Jesse, David, and Solomon (Detail 2) (1512)

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The careful modeling of the woman's face gives particular emphasis to the details, but it makes the figure intensely expressive, with a sense of ineffable melancholy, concealed beneath an exterior of toughness and diligent attention to her work.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Jesse, David, and Solomon (Detail) (1512)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Jesse, David, and Solomon (Detail) for your computer or notebook. ‣ David is wearing clothes in Oriental style: a green cap-cum-hood hanging down over his shoulders, resembles the Arab kaffiyeh; the upper part of his robe is rose, the lower part yellow. His arms are folded across his chest and, with his left hand, he holds the edge of a white cloth, possibly also having a ritual function, spread over his knees. His hand, modeled with remarkable energy, and the folds of the lower part of the robe, emerge forcefully in the foreground. David's face, partly in shadow under his headdress, expresses great concentration, though he seems to have suddenly noticed something on his left.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Josiah, Jechoniah, and Shealtiel (1512)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Josiah, Jechoniah, and Shealtiel for your computer or notebook. ‣ "Amon begat Josiah. Josiah begat Jechoniah and his brothers around the time they were carried away to Babylon. And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechoniah begat Shealtiel and Shealtiel begat Zerubbabel." (Matthew 1:10-12)

Josiah, the son of Amon, is usually considered to be the man depicted on the right, and Jechoniah the child that he holds on his knees, while, on the opposite side, the child's mother is believed to be holding in her arms another of the sons begotten by Josiah during the Babylonian Captivity. In this case, the family of Jechoniah with Shealtiel as a child is thought to be represented in the spandrel above.

The lunette with the tablet bearing the names of Hezekiah-Manasseh-Amon, who, in the chronological order of the ancestors of Christ, come immediately before Josiah, is next to this one on the same wall, instead of on the opposite wall, as it should have been according to the distributive pattern adopted by Michelangelo for the whole cycle. The interruption of this pattern, which was subsequently followed regularly, was probably intended to draw attention to the period of exile inBabylon.

For the first time, the artist established a clearly dramatic rapport between the figures in the two groups in the same lunette. In particular, this was assigned to the postures of the two children leaning eagerly toward each other with outstretched arms: the one on his father's lap holds a small object that is no longer recognizable, while the other seems to be trying to grasp it. The man suddenly turns his head with a vigorous mien that is difficult to interpret - possibly he is surprised, as his open left hand would seem to indicate - while the woman suddenly draws back, clasping her son more tightly as if to protect him better, with an expression of great alarm on her face. And, once again, the brighter colours of the woman's figure - a deep rose dress with a green scarf round her waist, a white shirt and a yellow ocher mantle - are in marked contrast with the dominant darker tones of the green cloak with violet shadows that envelops the man.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Josiah, Jechoniah, and Shealtiel (Detail 2) (1512)

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The man's face is strongly characterized both by its physiognomy and the tensely alert expression; this is defined by a very clean-cut profile and modeled with remarkable vigour. The vigorous manner by which the man turns his head, the relationship between his neck and the cloak covering his shoulders, and the deep, sculptural rendering of the folds bring to mind the splendour of classical reliefs or the models of Roman portraiture.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Josiah, Jechoniah, and Shealtiel (Detail) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Nahshon (1512)

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The two lunettes at the ends of the side walls near the altar contain only two figures: a man, to whom the name inscribed on the tablet refers, and a woman. For the first time, in the Nahshon lunette, the two figures - seen alone and in profile - face in the same direction, without any concern for symmetry.

The same orientation was employed for the principal figures in the lost Abraham-Jacob-Isaac-Judas lunette. The woman is depicted standing, with one foot resting on the stone seat, looking at herself in an oval mirror that she is holding in her hand, her elbow resting on the knee of her raised leg. Her back and head are bent forward, following the curve of the top edge of the lunette. She is wearing a green overdress, tied over the shoulders, and a rose blouse with rose-orange shadows. The complex style of her blond hair, knotted on the top of her head, from where a long ponytail hangs, emphasizes her clean-cut profile and the delicate passages of light and shade on her neck, on which a gold earring stands out. The pose of the woman is probably derived from a relief representing the muse Melpomene on a Roman sarcophagus.

On the other side of the lunette, a youthful Nahshon, sits leaning back on the edge of the tablet, engrossed in reading the book open in front of him. His outstretched right leg rests on the wooden pedestal of the lectern holding the book, while the other one is bent, and his arms are folded. He is enveloped in an ample red mantle with gray-blue shadows and green lining and hood. The elegant nonchalance of the pose is well matched by the expression on his face - in shadow and framed by blond curls - which is that of a slightly sulky adolescent prince.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Nahshon (Detail 2) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Nahshon (Detail) (1512)

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Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Rehoboam and Abijah (1512)

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Astonishing naturalness and a large variety of poses characterize the figures in the last lunettes, which are known to have been painted with great rapidity.

On the left a woman is depicted in profile; she sits alone, gazing out into the chapel, leaning backward with her elbow on the back of the seat. This is a detail that is only found here, and it may be compared to the low step on which, on the other side of the lunette, the sleeping young man rests a foot. The woman's right arm and hand are stretched out on her leg, while her left hand points to the unborn child she is carrying in her womb.

The young man at right is seated bent forward in an attitude of complete abandon. His head, with his face turned toward the wall, is resting on the hand placed on his right knee; his other arm hangs down at his side. Behind him, a young boy seems to be trying to make him sit upright by grabbing his shoulder. The juxtapositions of bright colours in the woman's clothes - a green scarf over her head and shoulders, a violet-rose pinafore, a reddish-orange mantle with yellow ocher lining - are matched by equally rich, but more delicate, tones in those of the young man.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Rehoboam and Abijah (Detail 2) (1512)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Rehoboam and Abijah (Detail 2) for your computer or notebook. ‣ The young man at right is seated bent forward in an attitude of complete abandon. His head, with his face turned toward the wall, is resting on the hand placed on his right knee; his other arm hangs down at his side. Behind him, a young boy seems to be trying to make him sit upright by grabbing his shoulder. The juxtapositions of bright colours in the woman's clothes - a green scarf over her head and shoulders, a violet-rose pinafore, a reddish-orange mantle with yellow ocher lining - are matched by equally rich, but more delicate, tones in those of the young man.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Rehoboam and Abijah (Detail) (1512)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Rehoboam and Abijah (Detail) for your computer or notebook. ‣ On the left a woman is depicted in profile; she sits alone, gazing out into the chapel, leaning backward with her elbow on the back of the seat. This is a detail that is only found here, and it may be compared to the low step on which, on the other side of the lunette, the sleeping young man rests a foot. The woman's right arm and hand are stretched out on her leg, while her left hand points to the unborn child she is carrying in her womb.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Salmon, Boaz, and Obed (1512)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Salmon, Boaz, and Obed for your computer or notebook. ‣ "Nahshon begat Salmon. Salmon begat Boaz by Rahab. Boaz begat Obed by Ruth. Obed begat Jesse," (Matthew 1:4-5)

On the basis of somewhat flimsy arguments, the figure on the right is usually held to be Boaz; his old age was, according to the Bible, gladdened by the birth of Obed, who is, therefore, depicted on the left with his mother, Ruth. The woman is represented with her eyes closed, as she tenderly cuddles the sleeping infant she has just finished nursing. A breast still protrudes from her clothing; in the past it was hidden beneath repainting, but the recent restoration has revealed it once again. She is wearing a long rose tunic with whitish highlights formed by the folds and orange shadows. A violet-rose mantle envelops her knees, while her head is covered with a cloth falling onto her shoulders. The green of this is duller in tone than that of the shawl wrapping the infant.

The serenity and sweetness of the woman, seen frontally and slightly turned toward the center of the lunette, contrasts sharply - also due to the dominant colours - with the old man depicted in profile on the right. He is sitting with his right arm placed on the seat, perhaps because he is restraining himself. Hunched up, his lips parted, his long beard jutting out in front of him, he glares angrily at the staff he is holding in his outstretched hand. The top of the staff is carved in the shape of a small bearded head, with a fierce expression; bearing a strange resemblance to the man, it seems mock him. The harsh greenish-yellow of his short tunic, girt round the waist with a red sash, clashes violently with the rose of his hose. On his head he is wearing a cap with earflaps, while a white broad brimmed hat hang down his back. Together with the water-bottle dangling from his waist and the staff, this seems to suggest he is a pilgrim.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Salmon, Boaz, and Obed (Detail 2) (1512)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Salmon, Boaz, and Obed (Detail 2) for your computer or notebook. ‣ The serenity and sweetness of the woman, seen frontally and slightly turned toward the center of the lunette, contrasts sharply - also due to the dominant colours - with the old man depicted in profile on the right. He is sitting with his right arm placed on the seat, perhaps because he is restraining himself. Hunched up, his lips parted, his long beard jutting out in front of him, he glares angrily at the staff he is holding in his outstretched hand. The harsh greenish-yellow of his short tunic, girt round the waist with a red sash, clashes violently with the rose of his hose. On his head he is wearing a cap with earflaps, while a white broad brimmed hat hang down his back. Together with the water-bottle dangling from his waist and the staff, this seems to suggest he is a pilgrim.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Salmon, Boaz, and Obed (Detail) (1512)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Salmon, Boaz, and Obed (Detail) for your computer or notebook. ‣ Ruth is represented with her eyes closed, as she tenderly cuddles the sleeping infant she has just finished nursing. A breast still protrudes from her clothing; in the past it was hidden beneath repainting, but the recent restoration has revealed it once again. She is wearing a long rose tunic with whitish highlights formed by the folds and orange shadows. A violet-rose mantle envelops her knees, while her head is covered with a cloth falling onto her shoulders. The green of this is duller in tone than that of the shawl wrapping the infant.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz (1512)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz for your computer or notebook. ‣ "Joram begat Uzziah. Uzziah begat Jotham. Jotham begat Ahaz." (Matthew 1:8-9)

The symmetry of the poses of the principal figures appears to be studied: the torsos of both are seen frontally, but they face outward in opposite directions. The boy in the foreground, in front of the woman, reinforces the plastic equilibrium of the scene; and there is decidedly sculptural and monumental emphasis in the two groups that seem to be compressed into the limited space of the lunette.

Under a loose green mantle, the man on the left - traditionally considered to be Jotham accompanied by his son Ahaz - is wearing a yellow tunic with lilac shadows on the shoulder and arm; these echo the colour of his cap, which is tied to his head with purple ribbons. In a relaxed attitude, leaning forward with his arm resting in his lap, he gazes with parted lips at a point that the boy behind him is indicating. The right part of the lunette is dominated by the tonality of the heavy reddish-orange mantle with deep yellow shadows that the woman presses to her breast. Although her gaze is not directed at them, she seems to be protective toward the two children by her.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz (Detail 2) (1512)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz (Detail 2) for your computer or notebook. ‣ The right part of the lunette is dominated by the tonality of the heavy reddish-orange mantle with deep yellow shadows that the woman presses to her breast. Although her gaze is not directed at them, she seems to be protective toward the two children by her.

The veiled head and the gravity of the attitude and expression of the female figure, together with the pattern of the drapery, reveal that she was probably based on a classical model. The same applies to the boy in the foreground. His pose resembles to that of ancient funerary statues of torch-bearing genii, and appears to be derived (with variations) from one of the figures of nude youths in the background of the Doni Tondo. With regard to the other boy seen in profile in the background, it has been rightly observed that he appears to have been drawn by the artist with the brush rather than painted.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz (Detail) (1512)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz (Detail) for your computer or notebook. ‣ Under a loose green mantle, the man on the left - traditionally considered to be Jotham accompanied by his son Ahaz - is wearing a yellow tunic with lilac shadows on the shoulder and arm; these echo the colour of his cap, which is tied to his head with purple ribbons. In a relaxed attitude, leaning forward with his arm resting in his lap, he gazes with parted lips at a point that the boy behind him is indicating.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Zerubbabel, Abiud, and Eliakim (1512)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Zerubbabel, Abiud, and Eliakim for your computer or notebook. ‣ "Shealtiel begat Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel begat Abiud. Abiud begat Eliakim." (Matthew 1:12-13)

The tablets in a number of lunettes bear three names: in these cases one of the three refers to the group depicted in the spandrel above. Except for the four corner spandrels the spandrels form part of the sequence of the ancestors of Christ.

In the absence of any information, the identities suggested for the figures are hypothetical. The arrangement of the figures seems to be inspired by the quest for symmetrical correspondence. A man and a woman, both accompanied by a child are seen sideways on; they are seated with their backs to each other, but turn their heads toward the viewer, their gazes fixed on the same point. Bareheaded, her legs covered by a yellow mantle, the woman hugs a child wrapped in a red shawl with white stripes.

The intensity of the colours in the group on the left is counterbalanced on the right by darker tones. Enveloped in a violet cloak and wearing a wide green hat adorned with a yellow ribbon, the man turns, his face less sullen than those of some of the other figures in the lunettes. The child is clinging to the man as if he wishes to attract his attention, with an expression of slight anxiety on his face.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Zerubbabel, Abiud, and Eliakim (Detail 2) (1512)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Zerubbabel, Abiud, and Eliakim (Detail 2) for your computer or notebook. ‣ Enveloped in a violet cloak and wearing a wide green hat adorned with a yellow ribbon, the man turns, his face less sullen than those of some of the other figures in the lunettes.

Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Zerubbabel, Abiud, and Eliakim (Detail) (1512)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Lunettes, Zerubbabel, Abiud, and Eliakim (Detail) for your computer or notebook. ‣ On the left side of the lunette a woman, accompanied by a child, is seated turning her head toward the viewer. Bareheaded, her legs covered by a yellow mantle, the woman hugs a child wrapped in a red shawl with white stripes.

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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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