10 May: How To Paint the Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo was a sculptor, not a painter, when on 10th May, 1508, he embarked upon the biggest gig of his career: painting the roof of the Sistine chapel in the Vatican. 

Outwardly reluctant, and doubtful he could complete the project, he nonetheless took the opportunity to suggest that rather than portraying the twelve apostles requested by the Pope, he should instead depict 300 different characters. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how he set about this Herculean task (no, he didn’t paint lying down); reveal how he channeled his frustrations into black humour; and discover the artful way in which he treated his harshest critics… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Book Extract: Michelangelo And The Sistine Chapel by Andrew Graham-Dixon’ (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2008): https://www.andrewgrahamdixon.com/extract/michelangelo-and-the-sistine-chapel.html#

• ‘​​”The Last Judgement” Michelangelo – The Sistine Chapel Masterpiece’ (Art In Context, 2021): https://artincontext.org/the-last-judgement-michelangelo/

• ‘Art, Explained: Deconstructing Michelangelo’s process from a Sistine Chapel study’ (The Met, 2013):