The Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, is one of the most renowned artworks of the High Renaissance. The ceiling is that of the large Sistine Chapel built within the Vatican by Pope Sixtus IV, begun in 1477 and finished by 1480.
The paintings on the ceiling represent Biblical stories about the Creation, Downfall and Salvation of Humankind. This gallery illustrates the main article at Sistine Chapel ceiling.
The Prophets of Israel and the Sibyls of the pagan world foretold the coming of the Messiah. Both have been included by Michelangelo as a sign that the Messiah (Jesus Christ) was to come not just for the Jews but also for the Gentiles (non-Jewish people).
The ancestors of Jesus are listed in the Biblical books of Matthew and Luke. This is the first known large painted series, although they were often shown in stained glass. See Tree of Jesse. Although each picture has a title, the characters cannot be positively identified.
Above the windows are a series of families with young children. The children may represent particular children who are mentioned in the Bible, such as Isaac and Samuel. The composition of many of the pictures is similar to that found in depictions of the Holy Family resting on the Flight into Egypt.
In the Salmon spandrel a woman is making a garment while her child looks on.
In the Ozias spandrel a young child is attempting to breast feed from his exhausted-looking mother, who clasps a round loaf in her hand.
Jesse spandrel, before restoration
Jesse spandrel, after restoration. In this spandrel, a young woman who may represent the Virgin Mary gazes out with a prophetic expression. The details of her eyes were removed in the recent restoration.
The Ezechias spandrel shows a small child gazing out of the picture.
Massimo Giacometti , The Sistine Chapel, a collection of essays on aspects of the chapel, its decoration and the restoration of Michelangelo's frescoes, by Carlo Pietrangeli, André Chastel, John Shearman, John O'Malley S.J., Pierluigi de Vecchi, Michael Hirst, Fabrizio Mancinelli, Gianluigi Colallucci, and Franco Bernabei. 1984, Harmony Books ISBN 0-517-56274-X