The Garden of Eden (1)

Michelangelo thought a great deal about the story of original sin and how to portray it on the ceiling. He reread the story often while he worked on his drawings: Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really [...]

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The Delphic Sibyl (1)

Michelangelo had first learned of the pagan sibyls when he lived in the Medici Palace. Lorenzo the Magnificent had told him stories about the Persian Sibyl predicting the coming glory of the great Alexander, and the Cumaean Sibyl who was so prized by the Romans. The story Lorenzo loved to tell the most was about [...]

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Ominous Trials (2)

The four double spandrels in the corners of the chapel ceiling looked like huge wind-filled sails. They were the largest spaces on the ceiling, each one 32 feet across and 19 feet from top to bottom. To paint their convex surfaces was going to require great skill. Michelangelo had long ago decided what to paint [...]

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