Did Michelangelo Enjoy Painting the Sistine Chapel?

The frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are one of the world's great works of art, but their painter, Michelangelo, apparently considered it not so much a labor of love as a laborious chore. While working on the Vatican ceiling, the Italian artist also penned a poem describing the mental and physical torment he experienced, including growing "a goiter from this torture" and having his stomach "squashed under my chin." Even his thoughts were "crazy, perfidious tripe," and he lamented that "I am not a painter." Another great Renaissance artist, Raphael, apparently agreed, since he was the one who got Pope Julius II to pick Michelangelo for the work -- not, though, because of his artistry. Raphael wanted to prove that his young rival was more of a sculptor than a painter. In fact, Michelangelo became so worried about the quality of his art that he pleaded with the pope to let him stop. The pope declined, and Michelangelo continued, finally finishing the ceiling in 1512 -- four years after he had begun.

Renaissance man:

  • Michelangelo rose to fame after carving a sculpture sold as a relic from Ancient Greece; the buyer was so impressed that he brought Michelangelo to Rome to work.
  • Michelangelo liked to hide images of himself in his artwork, including in The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel.
  • Michelangelo signed only one piece of art, his Pietà; he only did so because someone suggested that another sculptor had crafted it.
More Info: Slate

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