The story of the Sistine Chapel ceiling and of how the artist tried to represent himself becomes clear from a document kept in the archives of Casa Buonarroti in Florence. It is an autographed leaflet on which, next to the caricature of himself represented in the act of painting in an uncomfortable position, we read:
I've grown a goitre by dwelling in this den-
As cats from stagnant streams in Lombardy,
Or in what other land they happen to be-
Which drives the belly close beneath the chin:
My beard turns up to heaven; my nape falls in,
Fixed on my spine: my breast-bone visibly
Grows like a harp: a rich embroidery
Bedews my face from brush-drops thick and thin.
My loins into my paunch like levers grind:
My buttock like a crupper bears my weight;
My feet unguided wander to and fro.
The sonnet addressed to his friend Giovanni da Pistoia is grotesque, surreal, diabolical. It is about a man disrupted and disjointed by work, who, as a sculptor, does not feel up to fresco painting, who feels anger, disappointment, despair, and yet is still capable of enhancing with two beautiful verses ("a rich embroidery bedews my face from brush-drops thick and thin") the laborious glory of art.
* Presenting, for the first time, the new photographs of one of the most visited place in the world
* Every day up to 22,000 tourists visit the Sistine Chapel
* This book is a coedition with the Vatican Museum
Country of Publication:
01 September 2018
Contents: Introduction; The Sistine Chapel; The Frescoes of the 15th Century; The Ceiling; The Last Judgement.
Professor Antonio Paolucci is Director of the Vatican Museums.