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Fig. 22.18 The Laocoön and His Sons. Michelangelo was present when this most famous of ancient sculptures was excavated in Rome in 1506. It was placed on public display in the Vatican, where it still can be seen today.


Colours


The soft grey tones of the imitation marble architecture and the translucent blue of the sky contrast with some extremely vivid colours.


The original golden yellows, pinks and deep blues contrasting with pale peaches and salmon were restored when the ceiling was cleaned in the late 1980s.


These strong colours were important because they could be seen better in the natural lighting of the time. They also made the complicated scenes easier to follow from the ground, some 18m below.


The light source for shading comes from the direction of the altar.


Creating an image


Michelangelo created an entirely new image of God in the Creation scenes. A stern, bearded God the Father reaches upwards to create light before wheeling around to form the planets with a mere gesture (Fig. 22.19).


270 APPRECIATING ART: SECTION 2, PART 3


Fig. 22.19 The Creation of Light, 1512, by Michelangelo, fresco, ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, The Vatican, Rome


The Creation of Adam


The Creation of Adam is the most famous scene (Fig. 22.20). God surges across the empty sky, with his great billowing cloak filled with 11 angels, and reaches out to the reclining figure of Adam. Adam is depicted as a young, muscular, idealised male. A spark of life passes through their outstretched fingers. Adam’s hand is limp and accepting as it rests on his bent knee. This contrasts with the energy and determination of God’s pointed finger.


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