Essay by carli0010 October 2003

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What was the artist work about?

Sistine Chapel: Between 1508 and 1512 Michelangelo created some of the most memorable images of all time on the vaulted ceiling of the papal chapel in the Vatican. His intricate system of decoration tells the biblical story of Genesis, beginning with God separating light and dark (above the altar), progressing to the story of Adam and Eve, and concluding with the story of Noah. Scenes from the biblical stories of David, Judith, Esther, and Moses are depicted in the corners, while images of prophets, sibyls, and the ancestors of Christ are set in a painted architectural framework above the windows. Bright, clear colors enliven and unify the vast surface, and make the details more legible from the floor of the chapel.

David: The statue expresses not only the daring of the young hero, but also of Michelangelo himself, who established himself as a master with this work.

This massive statue, which stands 17 ft tall, was carved from a block of stone that another sculptor had left unfinished. Michelangelo drew on the classical tradition in depicting David as a nude, standing with his weight on one leg, the other leg at rest. This pose suggests impending movement, and the entire sculpture shows tense waiting, as David sizes up his enemy and considers his course of action.

What purpose/meaning did it serve?

In both works the purpose is to show Michelangelo's interpretation of the biblical book. In the Sistine Chapel the frescoes are his interpretation of the book of Genesis, the story of the creation of the world. While in David the subject of this work is the Old Testament story of David and Goliath, in which the young David, future king of Israel, flings a stone from his slingshot to...