The last judgment, the Sistine Chapel Michelangelo

the last judgement mural in the sistine chapel

The final devil is a mural that is on the altar of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican. It is the artwork of Michelangelo. The painting took nine years to complete; he only began working on it thirty years after the ceiling was full. The last judgment mural covers the whole ceiling of the chapel.

The painting took place in 1534 and 1541. The painting is about the second coming of Christ and the apocalypse. There are the righteous in the company of Christ and his saints and the sinners who get their punishment.

close up view of the last judgement sistine chapel mural painted by michelangelo

The mural raised controversy since the figures in the painting are naked. Cardinal Carafa said that Michelangelo was immoral and obscene. Furthermore, the mural was in the most known church of Christianity.

Since Michelangelo had all the figures in the painting naked, a censorship campaign by Carafa and Monsignor Sermini began and its main aim was to remove the fresco. The work of Michelangelo remained until Daniele da Volterra covered up the genitalia in the figures.

flayed skin depicting michelangelos portrait

Michelangelo put his portrait in the painting, showing himself as St. Bartholomew after his skinning. It is that his reason for doing this is because he had feelings contempt for being tasked with painting the last judgment.

Reception of the mural

There were those who appreciated the painting and then there were the critics who viewed the drawing as immoral. The disputes arising from the last judgment saw the artist Michelangelo accused ever so often of insensitivity and disrespect, especially because his painting was real nudity on the ceiling of the chapel.

The master of ceremony of the Pope, Biagno da Cesena raised complaints about the art calling it shameful and worthy of being in taverns and baths. Michelangelo put Cesena’s face in the painting depicting him as the judge of the underworld. He gave him donkey ears and covered his genitalia with a coiled snake.

Cesena complained to the Pope, but the Pope said that the painting had to remain. For two whole decades, the controversies continued, and the art remained the same. The genitalia in the painting was then painted over when the Council of Trent recommended restraint in religious imagery. The use of images for art in chapels and places of worship had to be approved by the bishop.

vie of the entire sistine chapel ceiling along with last judgement mural painted by michelangelo

The last judgment

The painting has over 300 influential figures, all in different poses all over the wall of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. There are Christ and His saints, the leader of the underworld, the righteous and the sinners. The last judgment is an explicit depiction of what the second coming of Christ is going to be like for sinners and the righteous.

Christ is a powerful figure who is the center and most important part of the painting. Just next to Christ is the Virgin Mary and then below Him are wingless angels who sound the trumpets for the dead to rise for judgment day.

There are two of the angels holding the books who seem to be recording the deeds of those resurrected. The book that contains the damned is kept lower, and the expression on the angel’s face that of empathy. Looking closely, you spot the chosen ones, the elect on the bottom left. The dead coming from their graves, angels are there assisting the resurrected ones.

There is a herculean angel who is shown to lift souls that are clinging to rosary beads. There is also a tug of war as a demon tries to claim one of the resurrecting souls. The angels pull at the heart as the devil tries to take the man. The tug opens up a crack that gives a small view of the fires of hell.

the last judgement mural in the sistine chapel

The right side, on the left side of Christ, demons drag the sinners to hell. There are those trying to escape the wrath of hell, and the angels beat them. Some of the sinners’ vices show. One of them is a sinner because of pride; they dare to fight back contesting their fate.

The ferryman from the Greek mythology who is a transporter for souls is seen swinging his oar and shows the damned the way to hell. Below that image is the picture of Minos, who has a snake biting his genitals. He is at the corner of hell passing judgment to the souls sent to hell.

The detail put into the painting and the graphic nature that the mural depicts the viewer fear of what’s to come and of the end days. Michelangelo’s aim, however, was to show the triumph of Christ and that heaven dominates.

Michelangelo design was to put together an epic painting that those keen, elite and understanding would see the artistic features of the art. Those who did not understand this found the art shameless and immoral. They missed the main picture that the art aims to show.

In the 16th century, there weren’t as many people viewing the last judgment. Today, there are millions of people traveling to see the final sentence that is such an artistic milestone and tourist attraction. It is much more appreciated now than it was then.

In 1980-1994, the mural underwent restoration together with the chapel. The recovery, seen to by the curator of Vatican museums Fabrizio Mancinelli. During the renovation, several aspects of the painting found, that were hiding under the surface. The image of Cesena a Minos did not have its nudity covered by a coiled snake; rather the snake was biting his genitalia.

The covering up of the nudity of the figures that was done by Daniele took place in 1564 after the death of Michelangelo. The painting remained in its original state until the artist passed away then the nudity on the mural was covered up.

Pictures and engravings of the art have made their way around the globe. The last judgment remains the most discussed and most visited, today, painting in the world. Even after covering up the nudity of the painting, it did not lose its value and intended impact on the viewers.

 
Source: MuralForm
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Bonampak – Temple of Murals

a view of the exterior of bonampak site, an ancient and majestic temple is visible

Bonampak is the temple of murals. It is an ancient Maya archaeological site in Chiapas, Mexico. The Bonampak was dependent on the Yaxchilan which is only 30 kilometers away. The site is not a unique site regarding architecture, but it has claimed its place through the murals in the three rooms of the Bonampak.

The site’s construction occurred in the late classic period (500 AD – 800 AD). It is home to the Maya murals that have high-quality preservation. The Bonampak murals set the record straight on the assumption that the Maya were a peaceful culture. The paintings depict war and human sacrifice among the Maya.

The first non-Mayans to see the site saw it in 1946. No accurate information on who was the first there. Speculations dominate on who was. First, some of the most know speculations are that it was two American travelers or photographers. The Americans got to the site through the guidance of a Mayan who paid visits to the ancient temples to pray. The photographer was the first to see the paintings that cover the walls on one of the rooms. The murals show war and victory.

a view of the bonampak murals looking at ceiling area of temple room

History of Bonampak

Bonampak and Yaxchilan leaders fought for supremacy. Bird Jaguar from Bonampak and K’inich Skull from Yaxchilan were in a battle in the 5th century that Bird lost. By 600 CE Bonampak was a part of Yaxchilan. During this time that Yaxchilan had Bonampak in its wraps, the commissioning of the murals took place. The king of Yaxchilan has Yaxchilan artists put up the structure in 790 CE. In the 9th century, Bonampak broke free from Yaxchilan.

The structures at Bonampak

Structure one at Bonampak was at the end of the eight century. It is 16 meters long, four meters thick and seven meters tall. It is on a T-shape platform, and speculations state that it had a roof comb. The structure has three rooms that each has murals with details on the ascension to power of Chooj, the son of the Bonampak ruler Yajaw Muwan.

There have been disputes as to the order of events, but most people just opt to view it in chronological order. You begin in the first room and end with the third room. The first room contains a sense of tribute, dressing, dance and musical performances. The second room depicts conflict, torture in the company of great members of court and echelons of the victorious. The third room has dance scenes, observers, and performance of rituals.

There are 281 human representations in the rooms. Most of them have captions, 1/3 have names while most the rest of them contain no titles. Theories are trying to explain why more than half have no captions while others have.

a view of the walls in the bonampak temple, figures are visible painted on the walls

One of the theories is deaths or due to change in politics. The Bonampak murals are not from one mind but a team of experts who put to work to realize these murals. Every person involved possessing a unique set of skills that brought about the realization of the walls in structure one.

The outside of the structure does not enjoy as much preservation as the rooms. It once had great color, hues of Maya blue, red and green. In 1996, a team of Yale University students led by their lecturer Mary Miller made the Bonampak Documentation where they studied the Bonampak murals even more.

Each of the rooms is a unique story that is rich in detail for those keen in observing. To understand the Bonampak murals, one needs to take the time to study each one in the believed chronological order. The history of Maya is extensively on the walls. They must have taken a chance to put up, but the expertise has seen to their presence centuries later.

intricate carvings into the wall adorn the bonampak temple

Room 1

The first room is where the opening scene is. There is an ongoing event acknowledging the right of Chooj to rule. There are visitors’ present and influential people in the land. The representation of the meeting is 77 human figures who are all carrying their particular functions in the event. The ruling class is clearly shown with the dressing that they have on and where they sit.

There is evidence of dancers and instrumentalists on the south wall towards the east wall. There is an assortment of entertainers visible and one of the figures depicts that of a modern day smoker. He holds a cigarette and shows a lack of interest or boredom in the event at hand. There are extensive details on the meeting in the first room.

Room 2

The second room shows the greatest battle ever shown in Maya art. It is the largest room and has 139 human figure, more than any other room. At first glance, you meet the south wall that has soldiers in battle. There are blasting trumpets as the actions pick pace. The wall brings to perspective one of the great Maya beliefs that is, being left hand is a sign of weakness. The warriors who loose are left hand users, and others stripped naked.

Every inch of the wall has a recap of the battle in detail and shows the power of the right hand as the ruler holds up a spear covered in jaguar skin with his right hand to show authority and victory. Some of the defeated soldiers are even shown to have two left hands.

Room 3

Here, in this room, there is a kind of celebration. It is a ritual celebration of being victorious in battle. There is blood spilling by the nobles. There are 65 human figures in this room. The first and most noticeable figures are the three individuals standing together.

The ruler’s son is seen kneeling, holding an ax in his right hand and what the heart of the sacrificial victim on his left hand. The heart is said to have been a still beating heart. The ritual ceremony also has dancers.

The Bonampak is the temple of murals that detail the lives of the Mayas and show an extended form of war, victory and human sacrifice among the Maya. To understand the details on the art, there have been publications on the murals that explain more detail the contents.

 
Source: MuralForm