Thursday, June 15, 2017

Michelangelo and The Pope's Ceiling

For several days I was engrossed in this book. Written by Ross King, the book covers the 4 years that the reluctant Michelangelo labored on the 12 thousand square feet of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Although written in an easy and readable format (I never loved history), I occasionally skipped some of the names and side stories of the other supporting cast in this true to life drama. I felt it just made the book longer. The character studies of Pope Julius II, Michelangelo himself, 16th century politics and the Roman Catholic church made the book captivating.

What made the story more compelling to me was the realization that those events happened hundreds of years ago yet the drama and the issues that they faced were very similar to what we face now. Michelangelo had family issues, pressure from the pope, felt jealous toward other artists and at one time or the other felt he is not capable of the commission. Who does not have those in today's world? The attitude of perseverance no matter how much you do not agree with your patron (the pope) - and in Pope Julius II's case - the unwavering belief that Michelangelo is the only one who can deliver. There would be no Sistine Chapel if there was no Pope Julius II and no Michelangelo. 

Aside from too many names, places and a lot of technical explanations on how fresco painting was done - I still enjoyed the book. I  just wished there were also colored photos of the Sistine Chapel.
Worth my time.

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