Art during the Renaissance Period – Part 4 (Michelangelo Buonarroti – Sistine Chapel ceiling)


                  The central panel of the Sistine Chapel is decorated with the nine scenes from the Book of Genesis: (from left to right on the image below) First Day of Creation, Creation of the Sun and Moon, Dividing Water from Heavens, Creation of Adam, Creation of Eve, Temptation and Banishment, Sacrifice of Noah, The Great Flood and Noah`s Drunkenness. Above and below these scenes are 12 figures of prophets and sibyls who prophesied the coming of the Messiah.  Furthermore, the crescent-shaped lunettes are decorated with the ancestors of Christ, the triangular-shaped spandrels with figures not yet identified and the four, large corner pendentives with a biblical story.   

Sistine Chapel ceiling

Dividing Water from Heaven

First Day of Creation

Delphic Sibyl


                   The Last Judgement can be seen on the on the sanctuary wall (at the far end) which he had painted in his later years:  

Sistine Chapel

The above image is licensed by its author, Patrick Landy (FSU Guy (talk)) under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  Date/Time Thumbnail Dimensions User Comment
current 21:30, 16 October 2010 Thumbnail for version as of 21:30, 16 October 2010 434×640 (153 KB) GianniG46 (talk | contribs) (adjusted light levels)


                   Michelangelo used the technique called cangiante (derived from the Italian word cangiare, meaning ‘to change’) often in his paintings.  Cangiante is the technique of changing from the local hue to a different hue in highlight areas or in shadow areas. This is done when the local hue (when it is dark) cannot be made light enough for highlight areas or when the local hue (when it is light) cannot be made dark enough for shadow areas without the resulting color getting muddied or dull. This might have come about because the pigments available at that time were severely limited (and many artists even made their own paints); but it is still an interesting technique used even now. In ‘Prophet Jeremiah’, the yellow of the tunic is changed to red in the shadows. In the image below this, the white sleeve has gold shadows in it.

Prophet Jeremiah



                  He had worked in extremely uncomfortable conditions standing on a scaffolding with his head tilted backwards, here`s a humorous sonnet he had written describing his condition along with an illustration:

I’ve grown a goitre by dwelling in this den–
As cats from stagnant streams in Lombardy,
Or in what other land they hap to be–
Which drives the belly close beneath the chin:
My beard turns up to heaven; my nape falls in,
Fixed on my spine: my breast-bone visibly
Grows like a harp: a rich embroidery
Bedews my face from brush-drops thick and thin.
My loins into my paunch like levers grind:
My buttock like a crupper bears my weight;
My feet unguided wander to and fro;
In front my skin grows loose and long; behind,
By bending it becomes more taut and strait;
Crosswise I strain me like a Syrian bow:
Whence false and quaint, I know,
Must be the fruit of squinting brain and eye;
For ill can aim the gun that bends awry.
Come then, Giovanni, try
To succour my dead pictures and my fame;
Since foul I fare and painting is my shame.

Michelangelo's illustration to his sonnet



1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s