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  • Sistine Chapel

    by Anthony Parente

    Image copyright © Cynthia Dionne.
    All rights reserved. Used by permission.
    In 1473 construction began on the famous Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel is also the official papal chapel and it is used by the Sacred College of Cardinals to elect a new pope. The Sistine Chapel is famous for its frescoes which were painted by many of the great Florentine artists of the Renaissance. These frescoes cover the entire interior including the barrel-vaulted ceiling.

    The frescoes on the north wall depict events in the life of Jesus. These depictions include the Baptism of Christ by Perugino and Pinturicchio, Calling of the First Apostles by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Charge to San Peter by Perugino, The Last Supper by Roselli, Sermon on the Mount and Healing of the Leper by Roselli and Piero di Cosimo, and the Temptations of Christ by Botticelli.

    On the south wall there are six frescoes that depict events in the life of Moses. These paintings include the Crossing of the Red Sea by Roselli, Moses and the Tables of the Law by Roselli and Piero di Cosimo, Moses's Journey into Egypt by Perugino and Pinturicchio, Punishment of Korah, Dathan and Abiram by Botticelli, Scenes from the Life of Moses by Botticelli, and the Testament and Death of Moses by Signorelli.

    The most famous of all the frescoes are the ones located on the ceiling and on the west wall. These frescoes were all painted by the great Michelangelo. The west wall contains an incredible image of the Last Judgement. What makes this image so amazing is that it contains over 390 figures that surround Christ. Within this great painting are various scenes which include the Judge and the Elects, Angels carrying the Cross, Angels carrying the column, Saints Lawrence, Andrew, and John the Baptist, Saints Paul, Peter, Catherine, Sebastian, and Simon, Resurrection of the dead, Angelic trumpeters with books of good and evil Deeds, The damned dragged into hell, Charon and Minos, and St. Bartholomew and the flayed skin.

    Last but not at all least are the wonderful frescoes which decorate the ceiling and depict scenes from the Book of Genesis. These frescoes took Michelangelo four years to complete. They include The Creation of Light, The Creation of Stars and Planets, The Creation of Adam, The Fall and Expulsion from Paradise, The Flood, and The Drunkenness of Noah.

    I hope you enjoyed the many wonderful frescoes located in the Sistine Chapel. It is truly an amazing chapel and one place you don't want to miss when you visit Rome and the Vatican City.


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