Did you know ...? of the week: Frescoes of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo Buonarroti

Frescoes of the Sistine Chapel


Did you know...? The artistic decoration so beautifully adorns the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, a masterpiece of the great Michelangelo Buonarroti, was performed with the complex technical Buon Fresco or Fresco Buono. The difficult painting technique, which leaves no room for error, as it should be done in just a day's work, —just eight hours before the roof dry—, is unique in that, through a chemical reaction, the pigments penetrate the ceiling surface thereof and forming part becoming insoluble in the water. The difference from the Fresco Secco is that as its name suggests, the paintings are to be applied on the plaster and dry.

top, center of the dome image painted by the great Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512 by order of Pope Julius II (Raphael), representing the history of mankind in the period before the birth of Christ. The Sistine Chapel, formerly called Palatine Chapel is in Vatican City, not far from the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rome, Italy.

Fresh Buon technique is based on a chemical reaction known as carbonation. "The pigments of lime mixed with water, applied to a fresh mortar, lime and aggregates, while still in the lime is calcium hydroxide form. Due to carbon dioxide atmosphere, the lime is converted to calcium carbonate, so that the pigment crystallizes within the wall. Thus, while in most other paint-painting techniques on the surface, remains in the fresh paint is "embedded" inside surface prepared, so we get to that painting can not be altered. "

above, one of the most famous scenes of the Sistine Chapel, The Creation of Adam, located in the central area of the ship. Given his knowledge of human anatomy and sculpture-and had done some of his best works as La Piedad, first, and then the David, Michelangelo Buonarroti merged Architecture, Sculpture and Painting in the same work.

The ancient barrel vault of the Sistine Chapel, —which was decorated with a simple blue paint and star studded sky represented by the painter Pier Matteo d'Amelia—, Michelangelo was prepared by using several layers of lime and arid. The first layer of sand was mixed with lime and successive with a higher concentration of lime until a completely smooth surface with a spatula. On the last layer of lime, the finest and still fresh, the colors were applied. Michelangelo, who also had great engineering feats, and that created a special scaffolding for the frescoes that should be allowed to continue with the planned Mass each week, templates used to scale the different scenes and characters that represent the Genesis, Bible or Old Testament.

above picture of the Last Judgment over the altar,—of 13.70 m. high x 12.20 m. wide—, which was made ​​by Michelangelo between 1536 and 1541 by order of Pope Clement VII and later confirmed by Pope Paul III Farnese (1468-1549). Curiously, the full name of Michelangelo (1475-1564) Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti is Simoni.

The templates made ​​on paper, which greatly simplified the work to Michelangelo,-since Buon Fresco technique required to act with considerable skill and dries up quickly before the plaster surface-drilling consisted of drawing lines through a number of points, and later, with a spolvero, to slide it over paper punch on the surface of the roof, the original drawing was marked on the plaster as a guide for the artist. Furthermore, apart from a technique that does not allow adjustments, other than the added difficulties of Buon Fresco is that due to chemical reaction with the lime pigment, when dried, the applied color tone changed so that Michelangelo made many tests and had to guess very well as they would be the colors after drying the surface, because otherwise, if there was an error, I had to scratch and start again.

Although from the outside the Sistine Chapel offers no great architectural interest, the reality is that hidden inside one of the best references in the world of art par excellence, the frescoes of the "divine" Michelangelo. But are 20,000 daily visits which currently receives the Sistine Chapel.

To get an idea of how difficult the domain of Buon Fresco technique, he resisted the Leonardo da Vinci himself. "The Sistine Chapel is named after Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere (pontiff from 1471-1484), who made Magna restructure the old chapel between 1477 and 1480." Also, animal glue layer had been applied for centuries to Michelangelo frescoes,-that would help prevent the release of the roof and the work that darkened considerably with the passage of time, followed by a major restoration that conducted between 1980 and 1994, which was discovered light and the vivid colors that Michelangelo had spent time in the splendid Italian Renaissance art.

Upstairs main detail of Judgment with the gesture of Christ separating the righteous from the sinners and the Virgin Mary, to his right, as protagonists of the scene. "Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what human beings are capable of achieving," Johann Wolfgang Goethe.

The characters so beautifully recreate the Genesis in the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo were staged with their bodies fully naked, as was customary in the Renaissance and taste. However, the reality is that this is not really like some of his cardinals, especially the master of ceremonies Biagio Cesana, so after the refusal of the artist, by order of Pope Paul III Farnese instructed the pupil Daniele da Volterra that covered the private parts of some of the characters with veils or "panties", —earning him the nickname "Braghettone"—, a fact bugged Michelangelo, although he retaliated. This addition made ​​later by Daniele da Volterra was painted with the Oil painting technique, so the new paintings are not part of the last plaster prepared by Michelangelo, but were reflected in a superficial way.

above general picture of the Sistine Chapel. One of the interesting characteristics that owns the buon fresco technique is that it resists very well over time, as evidenced by some of the old buildings that still survive us and we can admire in all its splendor in the ruins of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome.

The Sistine Chapel, measures 40 x 13.5 x 21 feet, inspired by the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, usually associated with the name of Michelangelo, however, on the walls of the chapel that support vault also helped other important painters of the Italian Renaissance as Perugino, Ghirlandaio and Botticelli, among others, who created beautiful murals rectangular over five meters long with the fresco technique, as shown in the image above. The monumental work of Michelangelo Buonarroti held in the Sistine Chapel, which was developed over nearly a decade, though at different times-became not only one of the best works of the Italian Cinquecento, but also one of the masterpieces the entire history of art. In the building pontifical ceremonies are held, and the Papal Conclave and Election, as media in recent years.

up, portrait of St. Bartholomew with the face of Pietro Aretino, friend of Michelangelo, who had been censured by the Church for his writings of lust. The character is depicted with a knife in his right hand and held his own skin in his left hand, which is also portrayed Michelangelo himself.

The great Renaissance artist, who flatly refused to cover the most intimate parts of the characters as hard work had cost him perform for a few years, finally got his revenge, and Cesana Biagio received his punishment. In the lower right corner of Judgment, at the gates of hell, the artist portrayed the king of hell Minos with Biagio's face Cesana. Michelangelo ridiculed depicting him naked ass with huge ears, a snake coiled and surrounded by monsters as you can see in the image below. Scared, to be represented in hell, legend has it that Cesana Biagio went to Pope with tears and sighs to bear Mr. Michelangelo order to erase its ugly caricature. Paul III, who believed it had good humor, replied: "My son, if the painter had put you in purgatory, could get you out, because there goes my power, but you're in hell and I can not" .

Five centuries later, the reality is that Biagio still in Cesana hell of Judgment in the Sistine Chapel that recreates the Apocalypse of St. John. Certainly, who expressed the view that the frescoes of Michelangelo were rather the decoration of a public restroom or a tavern, cursed be the day they filed their complaints to the pope; below, interesting video of the Sistine Chapel.

It is very important to note that, before painting the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo Buonarroti was only made ​​sculpture, the most important to date, La Piedad (1498-1499), first, and later, The David (1501-1504) . Furthermore, the idea that paint anything Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel was planned by various artists of the Renaissance rivals envious of his art, including Raphael, who thought that Michelangelo could not carry out such a huge challenge, especially if it is by the difficulty that he had never worked with the difficult technique of fresco, and this would be the laughingstock of the entire world. He also called "Judgement" hides some very interesting details worth mention, such as Michelangelo's apparent homosexuality, his constant devotion to the beauty of the male body in particular, including through representation on the women,-a who simply put her breasts, kissing male characters, or including his great love "late", the young Roman Tommaso Cavalieri, with whom he shared his life until the end of his days in February 1564.

Libro recomendado

Miguel Ángel fue un genio de virtuosismo inigualable. Esta nueva edición explora con profundidad y amplitud su extraordinaria obra y su ascenso a la élite del Renacimiento y de la historia del arte. Diez capítulos ricamente ilustrados abarcan las pinturas, esculturas, construcciones y dibujos del artista, con especial atención a la proeza que supusieron los frescos de la Capilla Sixtina.

Autor: Gilles Néret
Tapa dura, 21 x 26 cm, 96 páginas

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