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.

Pendentives

The corners or "Pendentives" show scenes which may relate to the people of Israel being saved, such as David slaying the Philistine Goliath, Judith cutting the head off Holofernes, Haman punished for plotting against the Jews, and Moses erecting the bronze serpent.

  1. Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, David and Goliath (Detail) (1509)
  2. Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, David and Goliath (Detail 2) (1509)
  3. Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, Judith and Holofernes (Detail) (1509)
  4. Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, Punishment of Haman (Detail) (1511)
  5. Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, Punishment of Haman (Detail 2) (1511)
  6. Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, The Brazen Serpent (Detail) (1511)


Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, David and Goliath (Detail) (1509)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, David and Goliath (Detail) for your computer or notebook. ‣ A sheet of light descends from David's shoulder along the sleeve of his tunic (painted smalt-blue with lime-white reflections) to the head of Goliath, who is sprawled on the ground, stressing his centrality to the composition and highlighting the dramatic violence of the action.

The composition was carefully planned in order to neutralize, as far as possible, the irregular shape of the field, dramatically forcing the predominant line of sight by means of the bold foreshortening of the two figures and the luminous convexity of the white tent, modeled with violet shadows. In the foreground, toward the lower vertex of the triangle, David's sling, lying on the ground, constitutes the starting point of the projection of the perspective along the central axis of the composition.

Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, David and Goliath (Detail 2) (1509)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, David and Goliath (Detail 2) for your computer or notebook. ‣ David's head is boldly foreshortened and modeled with a dense network of soft brushstrokes.

Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, Judith and Holofernes (Detail) (1509)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, Judith and Holofernes (Detail) for your computer or notebook. ‣ In the fresco, almost in the center and nearest to the viewer, the figures of the two women stand out in the bright light against the white wall placed obliquely in the background. Judith is portrayed as she is about to place a cloth over the severed head of Holofernes, which the maidservant is carrying in a tray held on her head. The biblical heroine's face is hidden because she is looking toward the darkened room on the right where, sprawled on the white sheets of the bed, the headless body of the general, depicted with complex foreshortening, appears still to be in a state of frenzied agitation.

Judith and the maidservant form a compact group that is given prominence by strong contrasts and passages of very bright colours: the smalt-blue of Judith's bonnet and dress and the yellow of the borders and oversleeve; the delicate green, with rose-white reflections, of the tunic and the crimson of the belt and sash, repeated with darker tones in the maidservant's tunic, which is lined with deep violet that stands out against the yellow with iridescent greenish shadows of the dress.

Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, Punishment of Haman (Detail) (1511)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, Punishment of Haman (Detail) for your computer or notebook. ‣ On the left of the pendentive, Esther reveals Haman's plot to Ahasueras.

Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, Punishment of Haman (Detail 2) (1511)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, Punishment of Haman (Detail 2) for your computer or notebook. ‣ On the right of the pendentive, the king sends Haman to provide royal apparel for Mordecai, who is sitting at the king's door.

Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, The Brazen Serpent (Detail) (1511)

Get a high-quality picture of Sistine Chapel, Pendentives, The Brazen Serpent (Detail) for your computer or notebook. ‣ The cruel punishment of the Israelites for having spoken against God and Moses occupies a large part of the pendentive, with bodies intertwined in an indescribable tangle. This presented the artist with an opportunity for virtuosic foreshortening and twisting of the bodies, and also depicting contorted, screaming faces.


Michelangelo Art

  • Michelangelo, a High Renaissance painter and sculptor. Possibly the greatest artist who has ever lived. Explore the sublime, everlasting beauty of Michelangelo's monumental art... More...
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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.

Art

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