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Michelangelo's Last Judgement - Essay Example

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In this painting, judgment day is depicted and Christ is seen as a “stern judge of the world” (Kleiner, 2009, p.474). The literary sources from which this work of art drew its theme are supposed to be, the Bible, the Divine Comedy and also many folk and traditional stories about the judgment day (Barnes, 1998, p.1). It was Pope Paul III who invited Michelangelo from Florence to Rome and entrusted him with the creation of this painting, also deciding upon the topic of this painting (Paoletti and Radke, 2005, p.501). It was under the loving insistence of the Pope (who was busily reviving the strength of Catholicism in the backdrop of Protestant Reformation) that Michelangelo left his work in Florence and came to Rome. Hence it can be said that this painting embodied the Catholic idea of salvation (Dixon, n.d.). The painting shows all the just figures inside it as ascending to heaven and all the damned figures as being taken downward into the hell (Kleiner, 2009, p.474). The purpose of this painting as seen from the eyes of the Catholic Church of that era was to tackle the ideological spread of Protestantism (Williams, 2004, p.76). The Church was getting aware of the “power of art” and was trying to “exercise some kind of control over the production and consumption images” (Williams, 2004, p.76). In this painting, Michelangelo has “used some…intense colors” and had paid attention to undertake perfect detailing of all the human bodies that he has drawn (Paoletti and Radke, 2005, p.501). It is observed that “each hue is powerfully distinct, yet shot through with lights of other hues” (Dixon, n.d.). The ambience created by this painting is that of great tension and apprehension. This is in accordance with the theme of the painting, which is about the judgment day. The central figure if Jesus as is in all previous judgment day paintings. The raised right hand of Jesus in the painting is supposed to represent the canonical saying, “(He) wrathfully damns the guilty and banishes them from his presence into eternal fire” (cited by Dixon, n.d.). But some critics (Dixon, n.d.; Kleiner, 2009) have viewed the positioning of the hand as depicting uncertainty and ambiguity. The painting is reflective of Michelangelo’s concepts about the judgment, which has roots in Dante’s notions and also in the idea that “judgment is not a matter of God's action at all ... (and) judgment is a choice of the individual soul” (Dixon, n.d.). This might be the reason why many figures in the painting even as being drawn into hell, carry signs of some internal conflict on their faces rather than a fear of being punished. It is also argued that this is why Michelangelo has not given Christ a commanding posture and instead picturized him in an ambiguous body posture (Dixon, n.d.). Critics (Paoletti and Radke, 2005) have opined that the style in this painting is a developmental progression from his previous figural style and also is reflective of Hellenistic sculpting style (p.501). By visualizing Jesus in the appearance a Greek god, Michelangelo was breaking the convention on usual depictions of Christ. The skin held by St. Bartholomew (he was skinned alive) in the painting is supposed to have a face resembling Michelangelo himself, says some analysts (Kleiner, 2009, p.474). Another curious specialty of the painting has been its lack of “ ...Show more
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Summary

Michealangelo's "Last Judgement." Michealangelo's "Last Judgement" is a fresco painted by him and completed in 1541, in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican (Barnes, 1998, p.20 of preface). This fresco is 48 feet tall and is drawn on the altar wall of the Chapel (Kleiner, 2009, p.474)…
Michelangelos Last Judgement
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