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Michelangelo Buonarroti

Painting

Michelangelo showed mastery of the human figure in painting as well. His Doni Tondo (c.1504), a significant early work, shows both balance and energy; influence by Leonardo da Vinci is clear. When plans for the construction of the tomb of Pope Julius II were forestalled, Michelangelo left Florence.

The artist was recalled to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He placed 12 figures about the ceiling's edge; originally these figures were to represent the 12 apostles of Jesus. Finally, Michelangelo painted seven prophets and five sybils. Within the ring of prophets and sybils were nine panels on biblical world history. Three panels were devoted to the Creation, three to the story of Adam and Eve, and three to the story of Noah and the great flood. At the rear of the chapel Michelangelo painted The Last Judgment (1534), considered by many to be his masterwork. The painting depicts Christ's damnation of sinners and blessing of the virtuous, along with the resurrection of the dead and the portage of souls to hell by Charon.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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