Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780142003695
  • 384 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


In 1508, despite strong advice to the contrary, the powerful Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the newly restored Sistine Chapel. With little experience as a painter (though famed for his sculpture David), Michelangelo was reluctant to begin the massive project.

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling recounts the four extraordinary years Michelangelo spent laboring over the vast ceiling while the power politics and personal rivalries that abounded in Rome swirled around him. Battling against ill health, financial difficulties, domestic problems, the pope’s impatience, and a bitter rivalry with the brilliant young painter Raphael, Michelangelo created scenes so beautiful that they are considered one of the greatest masterpieces of all time. A panorama of illustrious figures converged around the creation of this great work-from the great Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus to the young Martin Luther-and Ross King skillfully weaves them through his compelling historical narrative, offering uncommon insight into the intersection of art and history.

Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling

Ross King


Borders Original Voices Award Nominee – Winner
NYPL Books to Remember – Winner


“Ross King expertly wipes away the smudges from the story of this great painting, only to uncover a truth even more exciting and impossible.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. The Summons
Chapter 2. The Conspiracy
Chapter 3. The Warrior Pope
Chapter 4. Penance
Chapter 5. Painting in the Wet
Chapter 6. The Design
Chapter 7. The Assistants
Chapter 8. The House of Buonarroti
Chapter 9. The Fountains of the Great Deep
Chapter 10. Competition
Chapter 11. A Great Quandry
Chapter 12. The Flaying of Marsyas
Chapter 13. True Colors
Chapter 14. He Shall Build the Temple of the Lord
Chapter 15. Family Business
Chapter 16. Laocoö
Chapter 17. The Golden Age
Chapter 18. The School of Athens
Chapter 19. Forbidden Fruit
Chapter 20. The Barbarous Multitudes
Chapter 21. Bologna Redux
Chapter 22. The World’s Game
Chapter 23. A New and Wonderful Manner of Painting
Chapter 24. The First and Supreme Creator
Chapter 25. The Expulsion of Heliodorus
Chapter 26. The Monster of Ravenna
Chapter 27. Many Strange Forms
Chapter 28. The Armour of Faith and the Sword of Light
Chapter 29. Il Pensieroso
Chapter 30. In Evil Plight
Epilogue: The Language of the Gods


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