The Sistine Chapel Essay

2451 words - 10 pages

Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel is one of the greatest pieces of fresco work in the Italian Renaissance. Every year millions of people travel to the Vatican to see this impressive work . Not only is the Sistine Chapel an attraction for art lovers, but for Christians the Sistine Chapel is considered one of the holiest chapels in our world today . However, the Sistine Chapel like any other works of art was designed to send a message to its viewers.
Like most art commissioned by the Catholic Church, the Sistine Chapel was intended to elevate the standing of the church and to inspire church goers in their faith. However, the creation of the Sistine Chapel frescos is not as simplistic as those who commissioned Michelangelo to paint them intended, particularly The Last Judgment fresco. Through art history researchers have discovered that the frescos Michelangelo painted were layered with hidden messages. By looking at Michelangelo’s life and religious teaching of his day, and his personal belief we can determine what the true meaning behind his work was.
The Sistine Chapel is located the Vatican, the headquarters of the Catholic Church. The Vatican is composed of the Basilica of St. Peter, the Apostolic Palace of the pose, and the Vatican museum which holds works referring to the history of the church. However, not only is the Vatican the location of immense religious history, it is also the smallest country on earth. In perspective it is highly ironic that the smallest country would hold the most wealth in regards to art history.
The Sistine Chapel’s history began under Pope Sixtus. Elected in 1475, Pope Sixtus lived a lifestyle of greed and corruption. Ignoring the economic and political problems that plagued the Vatican, Pope Sixtus promoted his family to high positions and ensured that they would become insanely wealthy. Although his actions were not beneficial to everyone, Pope Sixtus spent a vast amount of money rebuilding the Vatican. He rebuilt bridges, streets, churches, and he founded the Vatican library. One of his projects included the expansion of the Palatine Chapel which would be later referred to as the Sistine Chapel.
Pope Sixtus commissioned Florentine architect Bartelomeo “Baccio” Pontelli to rebuild the chapel. Pontelli was known for his ability to reconstruct and fortify building structures, which was pivotal to rebuilding of the dilapidated Palatine Chapel. The building plans for the chapel required it to be built on a larger scale than most chapels during that time period, and to have fortress on the top-level of the chapel to serve as security for the Vatican.
The actual layout of the chapel was a copy of the Jewish Holy Temple. It is still a mystery how that occurred, but many researchers speculate that Pope Sixtus requested that the temple build a church similar to the Jewish Holy Temple. The reasoning behind the layout of the temple has to do with a religious doctrine known as successionism,...

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