The Sistine Chapel is one of the world's most magnificent buildings, and the frescos that decorate its ceiling and walls are a testimony to the creative genius of the Renaissance. Two generations of artists worked at the heart of Christianity, over the course of several decades in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, to produce this extraordinary achievement of Western civilization.
In this book, the art historian and restorer Antonio Forcellino tells the remarkable story of the Sistine Chapel, bringing his unique combination of knowledge and skills to bear on the conditions that led to its creation. Forcellino shows that Pope Sixtus IV embarked on the project as an attempt to assert papal legitimacy in response to Mehmed II's challenge to the Pope's spiritual leadership. The lower part of the chapel was decorated by a consortium of master painters whose frescoes, so coherent that they seem almost to have been painted by a single hand, represent the highest expression of the Quattrocento Tuscan workshops. Then, in 1505, Sixtus IV's nephew, Julius II, imposed a change in direction. Having been captivated by the prodigious talent of a young Florentine sculptor, Julius II summoned Michelangelo Buonarroti to Rome and commissioned him to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Two decades later, Michelangelo returned to paint The Last Judgement, which covers the wall behind the alter. Michelangelo's revolutionary work departed radically from tradition and marked a turning point in the history of Western art.
Antonio Forcellino brings to life the wonders of the Sistine Chapel by describing the aims and everyday practices of the protagonists who envisioned it and the artists who created it, reconstructing the material history that underlies this masterpiece.
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
Number of pages: 250
Weight: 612 g
Dimensions: 231 x 160 x 28 mm
Philippa Joseph, History Today
"This new book by Forcellino on the Sistine Chapel reveals once again the author's remarkable combination of gifts - the novelist who tells a gripping story, the historian who places the story in its social and political context, and the art critic and restorer who discusses style and the technical problems of fresco and also of painting a ceiling that will be viewed from 20 metres below and from a variety of angles as the spectators move around. Essential reading for anyone interested in one of the greatest achievements of the Renaissance."
Peter Burke, University of Cambridge
"Antonio Forcellino gives the full history of the Sistine Chapel in a narrative that is rich in incident and full of insights. It's an engaging and accessible account of one of the world's most famous buildings-and a must-read for anyone visiting Rome."
Ross King, author of Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
"As a conservator, Antonio Forcellino takes us into the workshops and onto the scaffold while vividly describing the materials and techniques of the artists decorating the Sistine Chapel, from its construction to Michelangelo's sublime Last Judgment."
William E. Wallace, Barbara Murphy Bryant Distinguished Professor of Art History, Washington University in St. Louis
"Forcellino sees the Sistine Chapel as more than just a tale of successive popes and two generations of artists laboring to create a powerful symbol of Christian spirituality and papal authority - and that is what sets his laboriously researched book apart from other histories of the subject. He presents the chapel as a revolution in the history of Western art."
The Catholic World Report
"Antonio Forcellino has some claim to be Italy's leading authority on Michelangelo Buonarroti. As both an art historian and an art restorer, with his invaluable insights and careful use of newly discovered documents, he
scrupulously corrects the Florentine's self-inflated claims."
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