Want you know all the curiosities about Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel?
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In this article I will talk about Michelangelo and his work inside the Sistine Chapel: you will discover the man behind this extraordinary artist, the curiosities and details that make us understand the various facets of his work.
Are you ready to discover all the curiosities and anecdotes about the Sistine Chapel?
Michelangelo Buonarroti was a very unusual and especially eccentric person. We know his irascible personality thanks to the description of Vasari, the first “art historian” ante litteram and a big fan of him (here is an in-depth analysis about Michelangelo).
They tell he lived surviving, obsessed and suffering from the problem of death and eternal deliverance, despite all his wealth accumulated thanks to his work. Michelangelo’s poetries are not so famous; they talk about his deep emotional turmoil caused by the conflict between his homosexuality and his fervent Catholic faith (it had to be hard in 1500).
Michelangelo’s Opponents at the Papal Court
They tell the other artists at the papal court mocked Michelangelo. The reasons were his bad attitude and his lack of personal care. The proof of these jokes is given by Raffaello Sanzio, who was his worst opponent, in “The School of Athens” (I talk about it here).
The Anecdote about Pope Julius II’s Tomb
The episode about Michelangelo’s escape from Florence after the misunderstanding about Pope Julius II della Rovere’s majestic tomb is emblematic; the artist wrote an irreverent letter to the Pope who asked to intercede for him so that Michelangelo came back Rome.
Nevertheless, the anecdotes about the Sistine Chapel are much more interesting.
Bramante, Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel
According to Vasari, the Pope hired Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel vault on the advice of Bramante, who wanted to humiliate him and support his friend Raffaello.
Bramante knew Michelangelo’s lack of experience about painting, and particularly about fresco, since he loved sculpture more.
Michelangelo refused this task different times until he was forced to accept after having provoked the Pope’s anger.
When he had to build scaffoldings to support him in the vault he understood Bramante’s purpose was to throw a spanner in the works, suggesting to him to build hanging scaffoldings, directly attached to the ceiling. When Bramante asked him how he would have fixed the holes caused by the pillars, Michelangelo answered he would have thought about it after having finished his work.
Michelangelo understood that “o Bramante in questo valeva poco, o che e’gl’era poco amico” (“Bramante wasn’t worth a lot, or he wasn’t his friend”) and created an innovative system to build scaffoldings, which was so efficient that they used it later too.
Michelangelo’s False Departure
Michelangelo did not let anyone enter to see his work, not even the Pope. But the extremely curious Pope persisted to see the running work.
The artist, exasperated, said he had to go to Florence for some business and that he would have stayed there for some day pleasing not to enter the Chapel. However, the Pope’s curiosity was so big that he opened the door and, when he entered, he found the artist who had just pretended to leave.
Got into a towering rage, Michelangelo threatened to quit the work unfinished, a threat he did not put in action thankfully.
Michelangelo’s Solitary Endeavor
Michelangelo worked alone for 4 years, though the quarrels with the Pope lasted a lifetime; they tell Pope Julius II beat him once. Forced by the Pope’s harassment to work fast, Michelangelo showed his magnificent work on 31st October 1512.
He believed it was still imperfect.
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