Sunday, 8 February 2009


“I cannot imagine how the clockwork of the universe can exist without a clockmaker.” - Voltaire

Michelangelo’s “Last Judgement” fresco in the Sistine Chapel, in the Vatican is one of the greatest works of art of Western civilisation. The scope of the work, its immense scale, its striking iconography and the brilliance of its execution is surety enough of the genius of the artist, however, it also attests to the line of development of Western art through the centuries to its culmination in the Italy of Michelangelo.

One cannot fail but to be struck dumb with admiration as one enters the Sistine Chapel and is surrounded by the magnificence of the images on ceiling and walls. The biblical days of the Revelation are illustrated on the wall behind the altar while all around one, are the rest of the stories competing for prominence in this pictorial rendition of the Bible. For me, it is one of the highlights of visiting Rome and I always make time to visit the Vatican, its museums, St Peter and the Papal Apartments.

Michelangelo (Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, to give his full name, 1475-1564) was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and ever since then he has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time. A number of his works in painting, sculpture, and architecture rank among the most famous in existence. Although the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are probably the best known of his works today, the artist thought of himself primarily as a sculptor. His practice of several arts, however, was not unusual in his time, when all of them were thought of as based on design, or drawing. Michelangelo worked in marble sculpture all his life and in the other arts only during certain periods. The high regard for the Sistine ceiling is partly a reflection of the greater attention paid to painting in the 20th century and partly, too, because many of the artist’s works in other media remain unfinished.
Have a good week!

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