Michelangelo: The Last Judgement (1536-1541)

(Vatican, Rome, Italy)

The famous fresco made by the Italian master Michelangelo (1475-1564). Michelangelo received this commission in 1534 from pope Clement VII (pope from 1523 to 1534) to paint the wall behind the altar in the Sistine chapel. The entire scene depicts the so-called 'Judgment Day' with the Second Coming of Christ and the Resurrection of the Dead. Christ himself stands in the center surrounded by saints and characters from the old and new testament. In the lower left corner the resurrection of the dead is shown who are awakened from their eternal slumber by the trumpets of the angels below Christ. In the lower right corner the fate of the damned souls shows are cast into hell is shown. The demon in the boat with the oar is the ferryman Charon who ferried the dead to the underworld (Charon is a character from the Roman/ Greek mythology but he was also used later in Christian images such as the famous 14th century poem the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. In the poem Charon ferries the souls of the damned across the river Acheron to Hell). In the upper left and upper right corners show two symbols of the passion of Christ: the cross on which Christ was crucified on and the pillar on which Christ was flogged on. The fresco was finished by Michelangelo in 1541 but soon faced criticism, escpacially regarding the nudity. The nudity was painted over after the death of Michelangelo in 1564 by the Italian artist Daniele da Volterra (who earned the nickname 'the breeches maker' after this commission). Most of the alternations of Daniele da Volterra were removed during the large restoration of 1980-1994. Fresco from 1536-1541.