Last Judgment Fresco, Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo: Interpretation, Analysis 3 985 Раздел в процессе наполнения и корректировки
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Last Judgment Fresco by Michelangelo Interpretation, Meaning of Sistine Chapel Religious Mural MAIN A-Z INDEX
Last Judgment frescoBy Michelangelo.Regarded as one of theGreatest Paintings Ever.
Art EducationTo appreciate cinquecento works of art from the lateRenaissance in Rome, see our educational essays:Art Evaluation and also:How to Appreciate Paintings.
ContentsDescription • The Commission • Chapel Alterations and Design Issues • Michelangelo’s Design • Little Perspective – No Frame • Features of the Painting • Why Was The Last Judgment Painted? • Critical Response • Explanation of Mannerist Paintings
Description Painting : Last Judgment Fresco Date : 1536-41 Artist : Michelangelo (1475-1564) Medium : Fresco painting Genre : Religious history painting Movement : Mannerism Location : Altar wall of the Sistine Chapel, The Vatican, Rome.
For the meaning of other pictures, see: Famous Paintings Analyzed.
The Commission Painted on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel, The Last Judgment was commissioned by Pope Clement VII (1523-1534) shortly before his death, and confirmed in 1535 by his successor, Pope Paul III Alessandro Farnese (1468-1549). A monumental work of Christian art, it was the largest single fresco mural painting of the 16th century, and took Michelangelo four years to complete. He accomplished it more than three decades after finishing his earlier cycle of Biblical art – the Genesis fresco – on the Sistine ceiling. As the name indicates, The Last Judgment depicts Judgment Day on the Second Coming of Christ, as recorded in the Bible. It is considered to be the greatest masterpiece of religious art of the 16th century, and represents either the final late flourish of High Renaissance painting, or the first major example of Mannerist painting – the new style that superceded the classicism of the High Renaissance. (Note: The 16th century art theorist Giorgio Vasari considered Michelangelo to be an important source of inspiration for Mannerist artists for the rest of the century.)
Alterations to the Sistine Chapel and Design Issues We do not know what motivated the decision of the Medici Pope Clement VII (1523-34), in 1533, to repaint the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel. Perhaps he was simply extending the biblical story of the Sistine Chapel frescoes which Michelangelo had last painted in 1512, under the orders of Pope Julius II. In any event, the project necessitated bricking up the two clerestory windows and destroying the quattrocento decorations – Pietro Perugino’s frescoes of Pharaoh’s Daughter Finding Moses and the Adoration of the Shepherds, and the portraits of the Popes – all of which had encircled the Chapel and continued across the altar wall. It was also necessary to destroy the altarpiece created by Perugino, and its frame, as well as Michelangelo’s own Ancestors of Christ in the two lunettes. The final solution reached by the painter to untilize the entire wall, without even a frame, radically changed the appearance of the Chapel, overriding the horizontal accent, which the continuous bands of windows and frescoes across this wall and others gave it, and introducing a strong vertical element.
Michelangelo’s Design For The Last Judgment Fresco Michelangelo overhauled the traditional image of the Last Judgment in keeping with the late Renaissance art of the Mannerist movement. Up to then it had been rigidly organized to convey God’s central place in the ordered cosmos and his control of Man’s final destiny. Michelangelo divided the composition into two tiers. In the celestial zone, Christ the Judge was flanked by the choirs of Apostles, angels, saints, martyrs and Patriarchs. In the terrestrial zone below, the Resurrection of the Dead was laid out on the left, while the Damned’s descent into Hell appeared on the right. Each obedient population, assembled in its designated place, performed its role with predictable emotion: the Elect joyful, the Damed in torment. The ranks were fixed and closed.
Michelangelo conceived his Last Judgment as a swirl of bodies – male nudes and female nudes, in keeping with his humanist philosophy – around the dynamic centre of Christ, with every figure either in motion or tense with emotion. The predictability has been swept away, replaced by anxious uncertainity whereas the traditional iconography was static and hierarchical, Michelangelo’s vision is of a dynamic explosive event. Flowing robes have been put aside, for in Michelangelo’s view we will all meet the Lord stripped of all rank and emblems of our earthly status.
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