Jan 9, 2009

Paintings and Sweet Revenge

It's difficult to start again after being distracted by the richness of the truffles. Being handmade objects I think they could be counted as works of art, therefore it was still in line with other things mentioned on the same day. See, I do stick to the subject. Hehehe...

So, back to Cappella Sistina (= Sistine Chapel), the greatest example of Renaissance art.

"Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what one man is capable of achieving."

- Johann Wolfgang Goethe, 1787

I can't express it better. What I saw was beyond beautiful and more mind-blowing than seeing the photos in books alone. The attention to details, the mix of colours, etc. are truly proofs of Michelangelo's stroke of genius...

It took the experts 20 years to complete the recent restoration.



As you can see, the walls and ceilings are filled with frescoes. From the story of Creation to The Last Judgement.

Amongst the many well-known portions of the frescoes, The Last Judgement fascinated me the most. Firstly, the paintings took up the whole wall behind the altar - it was the biggest single fresco from that century. Secondly, a true story told by my beloved music history lecturer.

Biagio da Cesena, the Pope's Master of ceremony, criticised Michelangelo's paintings, saying, "It was mostly disgraceful that in so sacred a place there should have been depicted all those nude figures, exposing themselves so shamefully, and that it was no work for a papal chapel but rather for the public baths and taverns."

Michelangelo responded by painting Biagio as one of the demons in hell, with the ears of a donkey, his body draped in a serpent. Upset by this insult, Biagio complained to the Pope. With a sense of humour, the Pope reportedly said, "Ah, you are in hell. That is too bad. If you were in purgatory, I could help you. But even I can't get you of hell."

So the picture stays. Michelangelo had his sweet revenge. The story is still told hundreds of years later, and the painting is still there for everyone to see.

Another interesting thing that stood out for me: the picture of St. Bartholomew holding his own skin. Gory, I know. If you look closely, the face on the skin is supposed to be a self-portrait of Michelangelo himself. Interesting.

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