Standing in the midst of a room that has spoken to generations of Cardinals as they voted in the next Pope, I couldn't help but wonder what these figures spoke to their consciences.
Michaelangelo didn't even have a specialty in fresco before the Pope summoned him to Rome. He went unwillingly. He struggled with technique, perspective and ego as he worked to complete the masterpieces. Between 33 and 37 when he painted the ceiling; and between 59 and 64 when he painted the Last Judgement. Almost ten years of this genius' life, poured into wet plaster.
Michaelangelo dissected corpses to gain deep insight into the muscles and body, and likely dissected a few brains. Neurosurgeons have confirmed that in the creation panel, the depiction of God and angels is an accurate representation of the cross-section of a brain. The green scarf is modeled after a brain stem.
|Michaelangelo in the foreground of Raphael's painting.|
|Michaelangelo's self-portrait in the flayed flesh of St. Bartholemew|
If M. was depressed, maybe it was because he knew that not long after his death, his students would be called in, to paint strategically placed scarves and garments over the naked flesh that many found so unsettling. Imagine the religious debate that preceded; repeated in recent history when the 20th century saw restoration work carried out to the ceiling. Figures could have been returned to their original, yet only a few were fully restored to their original splendour.
photo credit Sistene Chapel
photo credit Last Judgement
photo credit Raphael Room