Going to the Vatican?.
Can’t wait to see the Sistine?
Then prior to your trip, I suggest you read the book Michelangelo and the Popes Ceiling by Ross King. You will learn the true story (no, Michelangelo did not lock himself in the chapel and refuse to leave until he was finished) surrounding one of the greatest masterworks of Renaissance art. Know those famous pointing fingers that almost touch? That portion of Michelangelo’s work fell away ages ago. Some other unnamed artist did what’s up there now.
Among other things, this book will explain how frescos are done, how Michelangelo had problems with it early on in the process, just what are the origins of those sibyls, and how his treatment of the human figure had an impact on one of his biggest rivals.
The author also describes the seemingly outrageous Pontificate of the day. Can you picture a pope leading troops into battle? Well Pope Julius II who commissioned the Sistine ceiling did just that on more than one occasion. Pope Julius II along with his uncle, Pope Sixtus IV, who commissioned the building of the chapel, have been described by one art critic as “papal tsunamis”. Couple that with the genius of someone like Michelangelo, and you have a fantastic story.
As is mandatory for a book on this subject, each scene of each bay and vault of the ceiling are explained so that when you go there next year, you’ll know the real story of just what your looking up at.