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Chapter

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (3)

Michelangelo finished the first half of the ceiling by painting the lunette just under the corner scene that showed David slicing off Goliath’s head. The ancestors in this lunette were the last ancestors before Jesus.

The families of Jacob and Joseph by Michelangelo

The families of Jacob and Joseph by Michelangelo

Michelangelo painted Jacob, the father of Joseph, on the left side. On the right he painted Mary and Joseph themselves.

Mary looks away from her husband, as if she is aware someone is staring at her. Before her, a girl holds up a mirror to face the infant in Joseph’s arms. The baby, Jesus, points to himself in the mirror, though his eyes remain closed.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph by Michelangelo

Jesus, Mary and Joseph by Michelangelo

Jesus and his family were the last figures Michelangelo painted on the first half of the ceiling. After more than 20 months of work, it was finished.

Suddenly Michelangelo was anxious to tear down the scaffold. It would allow him to see all his work from the floor — to really see how it all looked from the vantage point everyone else would have. He wanted to learn from it. But he didn’t have the money, or the pope’s permission.

He still had not yet heard a word from Bologna about being paid. Michelangelo grew restless. If he heard nothing within a week, he decided, he would go to Bologna himself to see the pope.

Events in Bologna, however, had taken another turn for the worse. Some were seriously questioning whether Pope Julius would leave the city alive.

Next: Out with the Barbarians (1)

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