The Face of God (c. 1512) by Michelangelo

The Face of God - Michelangelo - c. 1512

Artwork Information

TitleThe Face of God
Datec. 1512
Current LocationDetail from The Sistine Chapel ceiling

About The Face of God

Michelangelo’s Last Judgment fresco in the Sistine Chapel depicts over 300 muscular figures, with Christ at the center, surrounded by angels and saints. However, it is God’s face that draws attention – a bearded man with piercing eyes portraying both wrath and mercy. The painting is not bound by a painted border, unlike the scenes on the walls and ceiling.

The meaning behind Michelangelo’s depiction of The Face of God has puzzled art historians for centuries. Some believe it is a reflection of Michelangelo’s own deeply-held personal religious beliefs, while others suggest that his portrayal reflects mainstream Christian thought of his era. Michelangelo was known to have reimagined traditional iconography and sought to integrate classic Greco-Roman philosophy into his works.

Although Michelangelo produced many pieces throughout his career in different mediums, he often reused devices from previous art forms. This shows how each piece contributes and extends upon elements from others in some shape or form. Despite being widely studied throughout history; including theories surrounding The Creation of Adam fresco found on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling where God is reaching out to touch man – this iconic artist remains somewhat aloof due to his elusive qualities witnessed in other works such as Il Sogno (The Dream).

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