Michelangelo and The Sistine Chapel Frescos Essay

On the 10th of May 1508 I signed a contract to agree to fulfill Pope Julius’commission on painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I had bad feelings about thewhole thing from the day Julius commissioned me to paint instead of sculpt. I am anarchitect and sculptor not a fresco painter. It is not that I doubt my ability’s to completesuch a task, but I believe that there are other artists that would be much better suited for

the job than I. It is of course an honor to be chosen to paint such a ceiling and Julius isfar to stubborn to find anyone else but myself, so I will paint and I will make it one of thegreatest fresco paintings there will ever be.(Brandes, 254).

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The scaffolding that was to be used for the work was horrible. Bramante haddesigned a scaffolding that required holes in my ceiling. How was I to paint a gloriouswork of art with holes in it! The first thing I did was have his scaffolding torn apart. Ithen designed a new structure; my ingenious scaffold increased its strength with the

weight that was put on it. I mounted floor boards along obliquely running columns thatwere separated my wedges of wood. Maybe Julius has chosen the right man for the job

I sent to Florence for a number of assistance to help me with the fresco’s and thetechnique since I am somewhat hazy with the technique involved. I started my work onthe cartoons for the frescos. These 12 Apostles that I am commissioned to paint are soboring I must find a way around painting them in such a dull fashion. As we started to

paint the fresco’s I became very uninspired by the idea of the 12 apostles I was upset andconfused. I knew that this was not the right idea for the ceiling.(Redig De Campos, 170).

I talked with Julius today and we discussed the project. I told him that “It wasmuch to poor a thing to paint only the Apostles.” And when he asked why I replied“Because the Apostles, too, were poor.” He told me to paint as I please, and now I willthe only problem is I don’t quite know what is right yet.

I had a vision for the ceiling while outside daydreaming today. I will paint theCreation of Man and the Creation of the Universe, I will tie in the already existingfrescos on the walls to the ceiling frescos by painting events that preceded the two epochof Sub lege and S…

… (Brandes, 264).

I tried to keep my painting style very consistent from painting to painting on the ceiling. I was going for a watercolor effect for the whole project and I did this by avoiding some colors and using a variety of others. I avoided pure reds, blues, and whites. The whites that I used I gave a bluish, yellow, or sometimes a brown tint. I did this to avoid a pure color standing out in the whole painting and to avoid distracting the viewer. I also left out gold and instead simulated it with other variations of color. When Julius asked me why I didn’t use real gold I replied “The prophets I have painted were poor men; they had no gold.” Julius was very material and loved his jewelry andexpensive clothing, he did not understand the reality of being a poor man. (Brandes, 274).

My work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is now complete and I will return to Florence to practice there. I believe that I have created something very special in this chapel. I have expressed my feelings and sent a message for all mankind to see. I owe this great piece of art to my imagination and am very pleased with the final product.


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