Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel Ceiling

January 23, 2010 at 7:30 pm (Uncategorized)

Here is a sonnet by Michelangelo, delivered to Giovanni da Pistoia in the form of a letter, wherein the artist described in poetic detail his struggle of working endless hours, days, weeks and months on the Pope’s ceiling.  What are your thoughts on this artist’s physical and spiritual conflict with painting when, in his heart of hearts, he wanted to sculpt?

I’ve grown a goitre by dwelling in this den-
As cats from stagnant streams in Lombardy,
Or in what other land they hap to be-
Which drives the belly close beneath the chin:
             My beard turns up to heaven; my nape falls in,
Fixed on my spine: my breast-bone visibly
Grows like a harp: a rich embroidery
Bedews my face from brush-drops thick and thin.
             My loins into my paunch like levers grind:
My buttock like a crupper bears my weight;
My feet unguided wander to and fro;
             In front my skin grows loose and long; behind,
By bending it becomes more taut and strait;
Crosswise I strain me like a Syrian bow:
Whence false and quaint, I know,
Must be the fruit of squinting brain and eye;
              For ill can aim the gun that bends awry.
Come then, Giovanni, try
To succour my dead pictures and my fame;
Since foul I fare and painting is my shame.

35 Comments

  1. Rogina Cobb said,

    As the photo shows above, Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling while standing upright on a scaffold he constructed. For many years and many days he worked, at Pope Juilius’ II’s command, on the inside of the Sistine Chapel, painting numerous Biblical scenes and chapters. Michelangelo was a sculptor. He hadn’t painted since he was a student and didn’t find it enjoyable. The poem he wrote describes much of the physical strain he endured in order to paint the chapel ceiling.

    According to him, he grew a “goiter by dwelling in this den”. A goiter is a large swelling or lump in your neck from an enlargement of the thyroid gland. This sounded exaggerated. Did Michelangelo really develop a goiter or was he exaggerating the pain in his neck? I decided to investigate what causes a goiter and found it’s caused by hormonal imbalances. Excessive stress on your neck shouldn’t develop a goiter but maybe he is telling the truth. How are we to know?

    Michelangelo goes on to describe his painful standing position he endured to paint such a masterpiece. His head is turned to the ceiling at a damaging high angle that makes the back of his neck touch his spine. His chest curves outwards and he holds the paintbrush over his face so that paint “bedews my face from brush-drops thick and thin” while, moments before, humorously calling the paint drops spattering on his face a “rich embroidery”. His genitals rub uncomfortably under his belly and his bottom bears his heavy weight like a “crupper” or the belt wrapped around the horse’s rear to keep the saddle in place. He works fast, his feet moving “unguided” as they please.

    Michelangelo says the skin on his face sags and humorously remarks that if you pull it from behind, the skin becomes “more taut and strait” He says where ever something looks wrong or strange in his painting, it’s “probably the fruit of squinting brain and eye”, meaning his vision was badly affected. Next, Michelangelo says you can’t aim “the gun that bends awry” (He’s a sculptor, not a painter) and then begs Giovanni to help his “dead pictures” and his fame.

    We can look on Michelangelo’s paintings now and find them full of life and beauty, but the artist didn’t think his work was anything amazing. He struggled to agree to start painting and he struggled to finish. His physical conflict was very high but Michelangelo kept painting until he was complete. While he wanted so much to drop his paintbrushes and go back to sculpting, spiritually, he was inclined to finish the chapel, and this passion and physical sacrifices are represented in his astonishing artwork.

    I think Michelangelo found no joy in painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling. All his work is beautiful and captivating, but to know that he reluctantly took the job and suffered through it with a bad neck, bad back, bad lower region, and bad eye sight is saddening, and, for me, takes away some of the power of the artwork. While the paintings are fantastic, just to know that he didn’t enjoy making them and that the artist didn’t find his painting skills congratulatory, takes away some special meaning from the paintings. I have read more about Michelangelo and many people believe his pains in creating the art “captured his true being” in the artwork. Many others like the idea that the paintings “hold a part of Michelangelo” because he struggled to paint them for so long. I don’t believe this. The fact that he didn’t think his painting was good and that he hated to do it, in my opinion, deprives the work of Michelangelo’s true spirit, the real spirit that comes to artists when they actually have fun (therefore giving more effort and consideration to) doing what they love to do whenever they get the inspiration to do it.

    Does anyone else feel the same way?

    • roberttracyphd said,

      Michelangelo’s dislike of painting actually makes me marvel at his genius and the power of his interpretation in the Sistine Chapel even more. To be able to rise up above yourself and your “limitations” and create a masterpiece speaks volumes to me of genius. His travail reminds me of the story of a pearl. A pearl comes into existence as an irritant to the host. A grain of sand enters the host and a solution is excreted that wraps around the grain to alleviate the pain felt by the host. End result, the formation of a pearl. From hardship and travail comes beauty!

      • Rogina Cobb said,

        Yes, from hardships can come beauty. And, yes, from struggles and perseverance a masterpiece is created. A suffering mollusk makes a pearl but would you say that the pearl holds the “soul and preservation” of the mollusk? Do you believe forcing yourself, actually forcing yourself and hating it, to play the piano on a master’s level of ability should be more rewarded and have more meaning than practicing and bettering yourself to such an esteemed level because you actually enjoy playing the piano? Michelangelo did fantastic work but he did it against his better judgment. Don’t get me wrong, you should try something new every day, but when the painting was finished years later, he still hated painting. He didn’t think he did a good job. The artist of the masterpiece didn’t like the masterpiece, and he went through great misery to finish it.

        Hard work takes you to extraordinary levels but when an artist doesn’t put his heart into his work, in my opinion, it takes away from the meaning and power of the art.

      • josue fred said,

        i do believe michelangelo was pissed he had to do that work to begin with, and maybe even afterwards. but i think one should reserve some room to think that he at some point was pleased with the accomplishment of that task. the poem obviously stated that he was not the least bit passionate about the endeavor, however the magnitude of a fresco that large, and that far out of reach, is best suited for a master. If michelangelo was as arogant as percieved by some, i think its safe to assume that his ego fed off the immense work on that ceiling which was completely acreditted to his name. with that in mind, i could see him brushing it off as some simply annoying task he was held to undergo, after all didnt he continue to design and build portions of the sorrounding structures later on.

    • JENNIFER GROGG said,

      Honestly, where to begin…Rogina, I’m not sure I agree with you whole heartedly. While Michelangelo is said to be a sculpture he didn’t want to take the commission by Jullius II, of master painter for the ceiling of the Sistine chapel. Was it because he felt the faith of God or the pressure of the Pope to commend the project…or perhaps because of the ongoing hatred he had of Leonardo, and the fact that Leonardo preferred painting and hated sculptors? However, as Michelangelo realized how special and how important it was to actually paint the various biblical stories of the Sistine chapel, he painted everything from the beginning of life to revelations. As he worked, he was assuredly in pain and suffering from the unnatural and excessive poses required to commission the work he was committed to. In retrospect to Rogina’s blog, I must say that even though Michelangelo hated to paint, I can’t put the idea out of my mind that he didn’t find some compassion for painting the Sistine chapel, especially since he was a devout catholic, and as it obviously shows in his work.

      • Rogina Cobb said,

        Hmm, I agree with you Jennifer that he must’ve had passion to paint for over 4 years and that he was a very spiritual and devoted Catholic. Michelangelo even decided what he wanted to paint and the fact that he chose to paint such an elaborate and complicated piece of Biblical stories is proof of how spiritual he is. He is very passionate about God, yes, but he painted this masterpiece instead of sculpting another. He prizes his self in sculpting and was moved not by his physical persistence but his spiritual one to finish the ceiling. At first he didn’t even want the task because he knew, physically, it’d be straining.

        Here’s a thought: Michelangelo could’ve sculpted. He could’ve sculpted an extraordinary piece, moved both spiritually and enjoying it physically, to God. He could’ve made a masterpiece in sculpture form. Instead he painted and, while he was spiritually compelled, his work was physically strenuous.
        My idea is that, because of this physical strain he endured in painting, his artwork suffered special physical motivation (other than his spiritual motivation) that his art would’ve sustained if the work had been a sculpture rather than a painting.

        For example: You want to make something dedicated to your lover. You hate to write. You love to sing. Instead of singing them a song, you write them a poem. In your eyes, the poem was terrible. You would rather have sung them a song. Writing that poem forced you to stay up late at night. You lost sleep over it. You did bad on your tests the next day. In all, the experience was painful. Because the writer (you in this case) hated writing that poem, in my opinion, the meaning and passion in the poem was lower than if the writer had instead sung a song.

        (I’m sorry my explanations are weird)

      • roberttracyphd said,

        It is an accepted fact Michelangelo did not like painting. But his commission for the Sistine Ceiling, and some twenty years later the high altar wall in the Sistine Chapel, came from the Catholic church. Michelangelo was obedient to the end. He stated, in a letter to Giorgio Vasari in 1557, “God be thanked, I can still serve Him with my poor body, though my memory and brain have gone to await it elsewhere.” Michelangelo possessed a rare gift and he chose, possibly with some inner spiritual turmoil and difficulty, to ultimately share his talent with the world by being obedient and pouring his soul into painting the Sistine. And we are all better off for his making that choice. His labor in the Sistine, on two separate commissions, has survived five hundred years and still speaks to us today. His voice has not diminished in the least. But we have to chose to listen.

      • Rogina Cobb said,

        I don’t mean to say his voice has diminished. Yes, the artwork “still speaks to us today”, but wouldn’t his voice, how should I say, be “lacking” in power because he painted instead of sculpted? I guess the question comes down to: Do you think Michelangelo was more obligated or more motivated to paint? Did he finish the ceiling because he was obedient or because he wanted to finish the ceiling at the best of his ability? Do you think he felt pressured or forced to paint?

        Don’t you agree that he wanted to please God with a great tribute but felt forced to paint instead of, maybe, please God with a sculpture?

        An artist can sit down and paint a marvelous picture with obedience. How much voice would that picture have compared to one painted, not because he were told to do it, not because he suffered through it, but because he did it freely? I believe Michelangelo’s paintings are “lacking” in that powerful voice he could’ve had if he had really enjoyed painting and had freely painted them.

    • Rick C said,

      Rogina your comments are great but, some of your facts are a little off. Michelangelo did not paint all of the chapel ceiling standing up. I learned and remember drawings depecting Michelangelo laying on his back for much of the painting. That said, working with only candle light and having to mix his own paint, working with arms up and paint dripping on his face for four years and even falling off the scafold and breaking a leg, tells me that Michelangelo may have said he did not want to paint the chapel but he was a dedicated artist and did what he enjoyed. Please remember even with the wealth he had, Michelangelo lived like a peasant. He locked himself in the Sistine Chapel and even chased the Pope away by throwing wood from the scafold at him. That tells me that Michelangelo was a bit of a recluse and would easily exaggerate the conditions, not to say the conditions were not harsh.

      I believe that because Michelangelo was such an accomplished sculptor, painting was an extention of what he loved the most. He could use the three dimensional thought and ideas from sculpture to create two dimentional paintings of such beauty.

      • Rogina Cobb said,

        Are you sure? I have sources that say otherwise, but if you are right then I suppose Michelangelo’s standing stance didn’t have any special meaning to him as I thought in the comment I made to Erin below.

        I had said, “Maybe the way he was standing held some special meaning to Michelangelo that, even though he was in pain, he felt it was appropriate to stand and paint the chapel ceiling as if the act of standing in that position was tribute to the Heavenly figures he was painting.” but if he also painted lying down then I guess this idea doesn’t work.

      • Rick C said,

        Rogina, I am sure, one accounting is Condivi, Ascanio, The Life of Michelangelo, translated by Alice Wohl (1976); Boorstin, Daniel, The Creators (1992); Janson, W.H., History of Art (1977). It tells much of the story but, I remember from Ms. G’s class in the 1960s where our art class in jounior high school watched a movie documentary about the painting of the chapel. I truly wish I could remember who made that documentary. Actually it inspired my painting skills and I painted many oils for my family long ago. I think i still have a painting of the Cutty Sark I did for my art class and gave to my mother. I ended up with it when she passed a few years ago. I have advanced to photography today and have thousands of stills. I look at how paintings were created and use that idea to create my pictures.

      • Rogina Cobb said,

        Rick, I’ve sorry to hear about your mother. I’m sure she was a great inspiration to your paintings. Thank you. Photography, in my opinion, is a very difficult artform, but I can see how it relates to painting. I mostly draw. I’m taking Painting I and find it extememly difficult. That’s why I understand that Michelangelo was a real genius in his art to be able to paint so well when he didn’t even enjoy painting. I’ll have to read The Life of Michelangelo sometime. It’s at the Lied Library but it’s checked out. I’ll be sure to take a look at it when it’s returned. In the meantime, I’ll look at The Creators and Janson’s History of Art. Thanks.

  2. Erin Phelps said,

    For Michelangelo to create something as beautiful as the Sistine Chapel with such disdain for painting and suffering through the process, holds truth to Michelangelo’s unrelentless talent and gift in being able to paint something so magnificent even while in physical pain. I believe his preference for sculpting can be seen here in his letter, as much of the descriptions of his physical ailments while painting the Sistine Chapel sound as though his own body is that of a sculpture.

    • Rogina Cobb said,

      “…as though his own body is that of a sculpture.”

      When I read that last part of your comment I immediately started looking for signs of Michelangelo comparing his body to a sculpture in a sculpture he had created. Sadly, I didn’t find any comparisons in the way he was standing in his own work (with his face towards the ceiling and his arm outstretched). Still, I wanted to take a moment and say your idea is inspiring. Maybe he was comparing his stance to a sculpture he had seen. Unlike the rumor, Michelangelo didn’t paint lying down. He was standing up and his poem describes this, but you have to wonder: why he wasn’t lying down? Wouldn’t lying on his back to paint alleviate the stress on his neck? Maybe the way he was standing held some special meaning to Michelangelo that, even though he was in pain, he felt it was appropriate to stand and paint the chapel ceiling as if the act of standing in that position was tribute to the Heavenly figures he was painting.

  3. Colin Geal said,

    I really like that idea from Dr, Tracy. The fact that intense pressure from the Pope made Michelangelo produce such a beautiful peice of art. Like a pearl being produced from its host. The Sistine Chapel is a work of art that cannot be evaluated or measured, it is priceless. It can be said that sculpting was Michelangelo’s strongest talent, with that you could also say he painted the Sistine Chapel half-heartedly with the lack of passion due to the awkward situation in which he was placed. However if this piece of work is half-hearted from Michelangelo we can only imagine the ultimate potential he posessed with a brush and paints.

  4. Lisette Wallace said,

    After actually being in the Sistine Chapel, it is hard to believe that Michelangelo felt the way he did while in the process. When I walked into the Sistine Chapel it was breath taking and almost like you were in a dream, very magical and spiritual. I can understand his true love was sculpting, but when you have such an extraordinary gift in painting it makes it hard to believe how he truly felt about it. It makes me feel completely different about the Sistine Chapel now, I almost wish I didn’t know this.

  5. Kenneth Nanez said,

    When Michelangelo writes to Giovanni, it seems to me that it is very evident that he is using his extremely gifted talent in recognizing the human form. It may be that because he cannot sculpt, he attempts to sculpt in words. His letter seems to be a blueprint to a sculpture that he longs to create.

  6. Emily Wutz said,

    We now view Michelangelo’s claim that painting was “not his profession” as a hollow reprieve. His extraordinary work proves that he is in fact an excellent painter. For Michelangelo painting the ceiling was a tremendous task, not only mentally where he would prefer to sculpt, but also physically where he spent about four years in an uncomfortable position to paint.

    Vasari quotes Michelangelo declaring, “it was necessary to have the compasses in the eyes and not in the hand, because the hands work and the eye judges.” This must have been especially true while he was painting the figures on the curves of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He could imagine the way the figure would appear from looking up seventy feet to view it, taking this knowledge he was able to represent these figures realistically; while maintaining eye movement along the ceiling.

    Unlike Michelangelo, Leonardo preferred to paint over sculpt. He claims that painting is a greater skill because the painter must analyze nature, become the interpreter between the two. The painter must notice the foreground versus the background and how they differ, for example an object in the distance will be a more faded color with less sharpness.

  7. Gracie wingert said,

    Even though Michelangelo really didn’t want to associate himself with painting, it is clear that he was extremely skilled in the craft. It is also clear that religion was important to him. He sacrificed a lot when he painted the Sistine chapel, physically, and artistically. He must have either been afraid to offend God or afraid of the pope himself. As far as physical pain if I’m not mistaken I believe that Michelangelo had back problems for the rest of his life after painting the chapel which proves his devotion. Artistically speaking, it was very brave of him to delve into a medium that he perfered not to use. It would be like asking a music major to choreograph a dance. Sure, music and dance go hand in hand but not everyone can master both.

  8. Kelly Murphy said,

    His poetry is as insightful as the rest of his work. It is sad and mournful in a way; it almost seems as though he regrets the great fame he has achieved at this point in his life. He has been comissioned to do this celing because of his exqusite work which won him such renown, sculpting. And yet because of this celing he is kept from doing that which he loves most, sculpting. He calls painting his shame, because he does not want to do it, it is not what he loves. Like much of the poetry that came out around this time; infact most of the poetry that came before it or since, it is writen by a soul missing their great love.

    Aside from that the passage goes into great detail describing the physical problems associated with finishing this work. Your back almost hurts while reading his words, the way his clearly did. He speaks to how it has changed his body, from bending and streching in alien ways. He was claerly a great master not only of marble but also of the writen word. It is really too bad he disliked painting the way he did. We see what he was able to accomplish even with such contempt, imagine what he could have done for the world of art if he had loved it.

  9. Erin Phelps said,

    I agree so much with you Kenneth. Michelangelo’s letter aches with a passion to sculpt human form.. in a sense he mourns his unrequited love to sculpt the human form in describing his painting of the Sistine Chapel.
    I truly believe Michelangelo had painted the Sistine Chapel as a duty to the Catholic Church, yet I believe he felt it was a job, which is inspiring because such beauty transpired. I have seen the Sistine Chapel, it is utterly breathtaking and speaks volumes to his genius.

  10. Brandon Jackson said,

    In Michelangelo’s sonnet, I can perceive his despondency and toil under the ordainment of the Pope and his servility to God. Like Erin, I have also seen the Sistine Chapel with my very own eyes and it is utterly astounding – the magnitude of his veritable and artistic genius. It’s unfathomable to conceive how exactly an old bard with impaired physical abilities and an ostensible reluctance to the consummation of the Pope’s wish is able to, relatively, produce one of the greatest works of art in all of known human history. It’s almost as if Michelangelo was innately gifted with a faction of the artistic caliber of God who has always been inscribed with the creation of everything in biblical passages worldwide. He is a true prodigy and polymath genius in the arts indeed, but even more so by concocting the vast painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel which ran against his preference of sculpting. He even stated that painting was his shame, meaning that painting was something he did not excel in compared to his other fields of excellence. The notion itself is staggering because in his least preferential field, he is still more gifted than many contemporary painters of today who spend their entire lives devoted to painting, in my opinion. I feel that his will to complete the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel transcended the limitations and travail on his physical body, and in doing so, I feel that he was figuratively dead, or gradually expediting his recumbency of death in the process of painting the ceiling. It might be an abstruse concept, but in the scope of spirituality and phenomenology, I think it’s quite plausible. Analogously, Michelangelo was a zombie driven by his determination and nothing more. That might be why it’s so captivating and awe-inspiring to many.

  11. Amanda Sharetts said,

    Know Michaelango’s disdain for completeing the painting, one can understand this through his letter. Instead of fulfilling his desire to sculpt he was compelled to do the ceiling. This took time away from other works he may have contributed to society although the painting in the sistine chapel is without question a masterpiece it annoyed michaelanglo enough to voice his frustration eloquently in the form of poetry. the poem suggesting the physical pain he indured painting the ceiling is pretty brilliant all in itself I might add…

  12. josue fred said,

    it’s quite remarkable when compensation is factored into the arguement. not only is he commissioned to a project he’s not enthusiastic about, but also, he doesnt walk away with a hefty pay, given the level of commitment and perseverance he had to apply. even with the emotionally dense and vivid dislike he so well scripted , michelangelo still executed the challenge, to what seems full heartedly. i couldn’t imagine how handled himself. maybe thats why his words were so well woven, because those feeling were retained through much discipline and potently poured out at a given chance.

  13. josue fred said,

    he’s like tha Jack Bauhr of art. art came first and he was willinging to endure physical and emotional strain in order to get the job done. it was also brought to attention that he didnt always agree with his superiors. this kinda reminds me of season 5 episode 14 when, nah just playing i dont thinki can take this anywhere else. but anyways michelangelo is the man, just like jack bauhr

  14. Keslee Thorne said,

    all i have to say is when your told to do something you dont want to do you dont put your full mind, and spirit into it. michelangelo didn’t want to paint but he couldn’t say no, what would that say about him as a man,a man of god, the church? espcially in his time church was practically everything. when michelangelo does his scupltures, they come out amazing and became famous instantly. however his drawings and painting are only half of what his sculptures are. when he did the ceiling i believe that god helped him truge along in making the paintings and finishing them in that small time frame he had. back-breaking and with little heart in making the ceiling michelangelo pulled through and did an outstanding, extreme job

  15. Bryant Nguyen said,

    Just the fact that painting wasn’t Michelangelo’s greatest skill is amazing considered he painted the entire Sistine Chapel with such high quality. Everyone amazes the “Adam and God” scene when they think about the ceiling, but when you take into account the backstory of how Michelangelo got the job and his technique can one really truly marvel the work that he created under such conditions. I am glad that even though the Pope forced Michelangelo to paint the ceiling that his creativity was not hindered by anyone else including the Pope. It would’ve been a real shame if members of the church forced Michelangelo to paint a specific scene from the bible that he did not like. Had Michelangelo been able to pursue his own artistic interests rather than accepting commissions from the church, it would be interesting where he would stand in a debate vs. Leonardo as the greatest Renaissance Man.

  16. Morgen Henry said,

    When people think of Michelangelo one of the first things he is remembered for is the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo may not be proud of this because it was not his forte nor his chosen art form. His unique skill with making sculptures that can stand the test of time was his love. The letter above has a tired tone that is both mental and physical. Michelangelo explains how strenuous it was to paint the way he did. The disappointment Michelangelo had in this work was that it wasn’t time he was willing to spend on painting stories then sculpting them. Also, the stress of the art being displayed in such a prestigious building.

  17. Jessica Lee said,

    The way Michelangelo describes his struggles is so detailed and beautiful. No one, today, would even think of writing their struggles into a poem. Its almost like people are too lazy to descriptively write how they feel. With such a detailed image he helped the reader imagine, you really almost feel bad for him. Especially knowing how incredibly long it takes to create such a masterpiece (more so back then), it must have really killed him to spend all his time and see himself aging on painting instead of sculpting. But after knowing what he has created, you become even more grateful of what he’s done.

  18. Vaughn Meldrum said,

    It is evident how much Michelangelo suffered physically while completing this intensive project. He and his workers often had to paint in cramped and contorted positions. They also were faced with paint, pigment, and various other chemicals that dripped on to their faces and into their eyes. Michelangelo also suffered emotionally, and one of the reasons he was reluctant to take on this project, other than that he believed himself truly to be a sculptor, but he also felt that competitors were against him. This is evident in the original scaffolding designs presented by Donato Bramante. Michelangelo had bad feelings toward the project from every angle. So much so that, he painted a self portrait into a flayed human skin in the Last Judgement scene.

  19. Juan Brucelas said,

    WOW thats what i can say to Michelangelo’s sonnet. When reading how he paints a ceiling while the paint falls to his face and it seems like his entire body aches I could visulaize it, but to actually experience it is unimaginable. It took years for Michelangelo to complete the Sistine Chapel, for those years he spent standing vertically painitng above his head and to add to that for those years he was forced to engage in a trade that he doesn’t perfer. By his words the process sounded physically draining and even more spiritually draining. From this rigorous process that was both physically and spiritually draining resulted in one of the master pieces of the Renaissance.

  20. ashleymariehill said,

    Michelangelo Buonarroti is without doubt one of the most revered sculptor of his time. Despite his fresco work during the Renaissance period on The Sistine Chapel, he always considered himself to be a sculptor rather than a painter.
    He was raised in Florence but had lived with a stonecutter and his wife. During this time he gained an interest in sculpture and he studied at the school of Lorenzo de’ Medici under the guidance of Bertoldo di Giovanni.Two of his first sculptures are ‘The Madonna of the Stairs’, and ‘The Battle of the Centaurs’. He had always considered himself a sculptor and resisted painting the Sistine with characteristic vehemence: “I cannot live under pressures from patrons, let alone paint.” Only the Pope Julius II forced him into the reluctant achievement of the world’s greatest single fresco.

    “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”—Michelangelo

  21. Dean Toby said,

    The conflict here is that he is extremly good at painting, and most know for it because most of his panting is very well known. He did however feel that he was always a scupltor rather than a painter, but people wanted him to paint more than scuplt (jobwise/chapel). To me when I look at his work, it is so detailed down to every muscle and hair on the subjects head. His desire of sculting also portrays in his painting due to this detail.

  22. Marlene Siu said,

    His conflict was between his duty to the pope and his own internal feelings. Her he was, given the gift to paint with exceptional talent and yet his heart was not in it, it lay in sculpture. He felt uninspired with painting and it began to take a physical toll on his body yet he could not refuse the pope. The pope symbolizes the church and in refusing the pope he would be disobeying his faith, therefore causing a spiritual conflict. I have personally seen the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, it is beautiful to behold. It is astounding to think that something so beautiful was created with such a heavy heart.

  23. Sophia McMahan said,

    It is unfortunate that Michelangelo was unable to decide his projects, but in the end, it was a masterpiece. It is not uncommon for artists to redirect or channel their grief, stress, or energy into something marvelous for the eyes. I could not imagine painting such a ceiling on such a grand scale, and without many of the resources we have today in the 21st century. But it is unfair that he was unable to contribute any more sculptures to history. An artist should not resent what they do, but should create a voice for themselves. However political it may have been, artists should stand up for their beliefs and voice their opinions. A life lived in fear is a life half lived.

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