The Delphic Sibyl (1509) by Michelangelo

The Delphic Sibyl - Michelangelo - 1509

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Delphic Sibyl
Dimensions350 x 380 cm
Art MovementHigh Renaissance
Current LocationSistine Chapel, Vatican
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About The Delphic Sibyl

Michelangelo’s painting of the Delphic Sibyl is one of five sibyls depicted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Of all five, his painting is considered the most youthful and beautiful. The sibyls were female seers from ancient times who were believed to have foretold the coming of Christ. While each sibyl has a unique backstory, their inclusion in Michelangelo’s work was meant to symbolize the prophecy that Christ would come not only to save Jews but all people.

The Delphic Sibyl holds a scroll in her hands which many believe references her famous prophecies at Delphi during ancient Greek times. She is associated with early religious practices in Ancient Greece and venerated from before the Trojan War era. Her representation is particularly poised, almost dreamlike with delicate features, plump lips, narrow nose, and wide-set eyes intense gaze that seems to follow viewers around.

Michelangelo’s version of her highlights her beauty while also capturing her ancient divinity as she looks contemplatively off into space with a head turban placed atop long flowing locks around intricate braids. Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo for this project back in 1508 when he was asked to decorate its bare ceiling by creating something spectacular for mass-goers’ enjoyment while visiting Vatican City today- even if just a few minutes among tourists can be frustrating despite attempts towards restoration efforts over time which continue making little change year over year due largely due heavy foot traffic wear-and-tear combined with years without skilled manpower devoted solely towards undoing mistakes made both earlier contractors!

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