The murals on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are one of the biggest pieces of artwork from the Renaissance period that can still be seen today. Its size, which is 1/6 the size of a soccer field, is absolutely mind-blowing especially if you think about the fact that all the paintings were completed in less than 5 years. Interestingly, Michelangelo, who considered himself a sculptor, but not an artist, had never painted murals before. Maybe this was the reason why this great Italian sculptor was not very eager to work on the Chapel. But some biographers think that it was his desire to prove his skill that ultimately made him agree to do the work.

Boredpanda decided to learn more about the work of this genius artist that up to 30,000 people come to see every day.

The Sistine Chapel in the Vatican was built during the period from 1473–1481 at the order of Pope Sixtus IV who the Chapel was named after. To paint a mural on the walls of the Chapel, the most famous artists of the time were invited, including Sandro Botticelli. The ceiling got a lot of attention, too: artist Piermatteo d’Amelia drew golden stars on the blue background.

In 1504, cracks appeared on the ceiling and they were fixed with bricks. But Pope Julius II decided to decorate the ceiling again and in 1508, the famous Michelangelo Buonarroti from Florence started working on his greatest creation.

Since 1871, the Sistine Chapel is the only place where the election of the new Popes is done. This is the place where the white smoke rises, signaling that the new head of the Catholic Church is soon going to be presented to the world.

  • Despite a popular misconception, Michelangelo wasn’t doing the work lying on some sort of a deck, but he was standing with his head back. The work on the mural (and we are not exaggerating) cost the artist his health (even though at the moment when he started in 1508, he was only 33 years old). He developed an ear infection because of the paint that got on his face, and he also had arthritis and scoliosis. More than that, because of the lack of light during the process, Michelangelo could only read text if he lifted it high above his head.
  • Michelangelo worked using the affresco technique: the technique involved covering the ceiling with as much plaster as it was planned to cover with paintings in one day. Unlike the al secco technique where you draw on dry plaster, affresco allows you to create something that will last for a longer time. If the plastered surface wasn’t painted on the day it was applied, it was removed and the next day the plaster was put on back again. Some parts of the murals were done al secco, which led to the fact that during the restoration from 1980-1994, the shadows of some figures and the eyes disappeared…Show More

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