In 1508, the pope asked Michelangelo to paint frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Although Michelangelo had very little experience of frescoes, he began work on the ceiling in 1508 and it took four years to complete. He erected scaffolding twenty metres high and spent most of his time lying on his back. He wrote this poem to a friend describing his experience:
"My stomach is pushed up towards my chin
My beard curls up towards the sky
My head leans over onto my back
And my chest is like that of an old witch.
The brush drips endlessly onto my face
And coats it with many different colours.
I move blindly without being able to see my feet
And I move as curved as a Syrian bow."
Twenty-five years after he had finished the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, another pope asked Michelangelo to work there again.
On the wall behind the high altar, he painted a huge frescoe called The Last Judgment. This tells the story of Christ sitting in judgment on the Last Day, deciding who should go to heaven or hell.
Michelangelo used many bright colours like blue, pink and mauve. Although some people said it was a masterpiece, others thought that it was not very religious looking. In1564, Pope Pius IV ordered that some of the naked figures be painted over.