Almost 500 years after Michelangelo Buonarroti frescoed the
ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the site still attracts
throngs of visitors and is considered one of the artistic
masterpieces of the world. Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling
unveils the story behind the art's making, a story rife with all
the drama of a modern-day soap opera.
The temperament of the day was dictated by the politics of the
papal court, a corrupt and powerful office steeped in
controversy; Pope Julius II even had a nickname, "Il Papa
Terrible," to prove it. Along with his violent outbursts and
warmongering, Pope Julius II took upon himself to restore the
Sistine Chapel and pretty much intimidated Michelangelo into
painting the ceiling even though the artist considered himself
primarily a sculptor and was particularly unfamiliar with the
temperamental art of fresco. Along with technical difficulties,
personality conflicts, and money troubles, Michelangelo was
plagued by health problems and competition in the form of the
dashing and talented young painter Raphael.
Author Ross King offers an in-depth analysis of the complex
historical background that led to the magnificence that is the
Sistine Chapel ceiling along with detailed discussion of some of
the ceiling’s panels. King provides fabulous tidbits of
information and weaves together a fascinating historical tale.