To day we were going to se The Vatican Museums. We went by metro to San Pietro station. Then we stood in line for more than an hour to enter the museum. Excellent that we had not come on the most popular time of the year. On this day (Monday) the museums were open only from 9-13, so we chose to 'be content with' The sistine Chapel. The chapel is not only The Chapel, but no doubt one of the greatest art museums in the world. But like everybody else we were most interested in seing the chapel, where Michelangelo had decorated to ceiling and the rear wall. But in fact there were so many beautiful things to be seen.
In the hall we saw a wonderful and very special staircase. In fact there were 2 staircases, winding into another. We just followed the stream - and the signs - leading to The Sistine Chapel. But on our struggle we had time to enjoy a very interesting collection of modern art, which we were unaware of. After having walked for several hours (so it seemed) with our necks bended back, we realized, that somehow we had missed The Chapel. So we had to go back 'upstream'. A decision that was not very well accepted from the local guardians. But sometimes you have to suffer for art! When we had returned to our starting point, we realized, that we had given up too early, so once again we wandered (wondered) along the long galleries. And finally our efforts were rewarded. We reached the promised land, The Chapel.
In any other context the paintings and mosaics on the walls would have been considered top level art. And in fact they are, been made by Botticelli, Pinturricchio and di Cosimo. But all attention is drawn to the ceiling. For the first 20 years after the finishing of the walls the ceiling was just a bluepaint with silver and gold stars on. Then the pope Julius II asked Michelangelo to postpone the monument, he was working on (and to his grief never finished) and decorate the ceiling. Michelangelo fired all the assistants and refused to take any advice from the Pope or anybody else. In four years he decorated the ceiling, most of the time lying stretched on a scaffold. He refused to have help and worked alone and completed the ceiling in 1512. The ceiling was recently restored, and you can see the vibrant colors, that were actually used. He ruined his vision during this project, often burning his eyes with the run off from the candles that he had placed on his forehead, as he lay on his back to paint. The motivs are from the creation of man (woman) and history of man until Jesus was born. 930 square meters with more than 300 figures. An incredible effort for a man, who in his own opinion was not a painter.
The Creation of Adam is the most famous of the panels. In this scene God is a powerful, dynamic figure, extending his right arm to infuse a human soul into Adam. The idea of salvation underlies the whole decoration of the chapel.
Michelangelo returned to the chapel again to paint the Last Judgment from 1534 to 1541. Two windows were removed and an earlier fresco had to be destroyed to build a new wall for him to paint. He had the wall slanted slightly inward to prevent dust from settling on it. He once again refused all help with the painting, that is said to be the masterpiece of his mature years. To be honest (why not? as we say in Denmark: a bit of virtue will never hurt you.) we were more impressed by The Last Judgment than the ceiling. But it was a bit distracting that so many of the persons had been equipped with underwear. The books told us, that one of the popes had ordered a painter to do this, because the many nude persons might distract the spectator. Later on most of these garments have been removed, but you can still tell.
Pyramides in Trastevere?
A quit dinner - are you kidding?
On our room we watched the Pope giving a mass on TV from San Pietro's Square. We should have been there. Maybe next time.
Maybe you would like to accompany us to Pompei, the city that was destroyed in 79 A.D. (Why not A.C.?)At least we have been looking forward to this, since we heard about it in school. OK, just a click away.