I have been busy the last week or so painting Christmas gifts for friends, (I am not going to post them just yet, because I don't want to spoil the surprise) I needed a bit of a break from painting – so when the family congregated at the weekend, we pulled out one of my FAVOURITE things – a jigsaw puzzle – it is something carried over from when the kids were little – we used to save it for a wet day activity…..& they all love them…. it kinda goes with the whole 'whodunnit' fascination I have. We have done a couple of smaller 500 – 1000 piece puzzles in the last couple of weeks – but it was time to pull out something more challenging (AND inspiring)… and so – into the attic I went to retrieve the MOTHERSHIP…. A gorgeous Italian made puzzle of 3000 pieces depicting the Sistine Chapel ceiling……… it had literally been about 7 years since it had seen the light….. and down she came…. as you can see from the photo above, it is huge and whilst I LOVE it – the physical challenge of doing the puzzle is having some way to store it when you are not doing it. As you can see in the picture at the top it is taking up our whole kitchen table (8 ft x 3ft). DH had a great idea when he purchased it of buying one of those 'roll up' puzzle mats - but it reaches right to the perimetre – so that's of limited help too…. ANYWAYS – all of this exposure to classical art has made me cast off Christmas, and use some classical influence as models to do my face of the day….. this one is modelled from a drawing by Rubens.
iF you are remotely interested in the story of any of Michelangelo the most fascinating book that I have read is The Agony & The Ecstasy by Irving Stone. It goes through his life from quite a young age through to his death – the intricacies of the religious politicing as various Popes & patrons moved through his life, the background and development of each of his works – his life with the Medici's – its a REALLY a fascinating read! Its a great gift to give anyone creative and a very insightful holiday read!
THE STORY OF THE SISTINE CHAPEL
I have visited the Sistine Chapel in Rome twice – in 2000 and in 2003. Both times the overwhelming thing was this amazingly bright cornflower blue. It is my lingering memory of the visits. And yet, surprisingly, no photos of the ceiling ever capture that, because it is in the upper wall frescos that it is most dominant and the glimpses of it in the ceiling appear more prominent when you are standing there, because you first have to look up past the walls to get to the ceiling frescos. Here's the story of the chapel, from one of my travel books:
The chapel was built between 1475 and 1483, in the time of Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere. A basic feature of the chapel itself, so obvious that it is sometimes ignored, is the papal function, as the pope's chapel and the location of the elections of new popes. The Chapel is rectangular in shape and measures 40,93 meters long by 13,41 meters wide, i.e. the exact dimensions of the Temple of Solomon, as given in the Old Testament. It is 20,70 meters high and is surmounted by a shallow barrel vault with six tall windows cut into the long sides, forming a series of pendentives between them. A marble mosaic floor of exquisite workmanship describes the processional itinerary up to and beyond the marble screen, to the innermost space, where it offers a surround for the papal throne and the cardinals' seats. The architectural plans were made by Baccio Pontelli and the construction was supervised by Giovanino de'Dolci.
The walls are divided into three orders by horizontal cornices; according to the decorative program, the lower of the three orders was to be painted with fictive "tapestries," the central one with two facing cycles – one relating the life of Moses (left wall) and the other the Life of Christ (right wall), starting from the end wall, where the altar fresco, painted by Perugino, depicted the Virgin of the Assumption, to whom the chapel was dedicated. The upper order is endowed with pilasters that support the pendentives of the vault.
The wall paintings were executed by Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Cosimo Rosselli, Luca Signorelli and their respective workshops, which included Pinturicchio, Piero di Cosimo and Bartolomeo della Gatta. The ceiling was frescoed by Piero Matteo d'Amelia with a star-spangled sky.
Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Julius II della Rovere in 1508 to repaint the ceiling; the work was completed between 1508 and 1512. He painted the Last Judgement over the altar, between 1535 and 1541, being commissioned by Pope Paul III Farnese.