The Last Judgment (1536–1541) by Michelangelo

The Last Judgment - Michelangelo - 1537 - 1541

Artwork Information

TitleThe Last Judgment
Date1537 - 1541
Dimensions1370 x 1220 cm
Art MovementMannerism (Late Renaissance)
Current LocationSistine Chapel, Vatican
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About The Last Judgment

Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment is a famous fresco that covers the entire altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Italy. Commissioned by Pope Paul III in 1541, it features over 300 muscular figures engaged in dynamic and often violent action surrounding the central figure of Christ. This artwork depicts the Second Coming of Christ and the final and eternal judgment of all humanity by God.

Michelangelo’s interpretation was entirely novel, with a swirling maelstrom replacing traditional symmetry and order. The artwork stirred controversy upon its unveiling, with some accusing Michelangelo of breaking decorum due to its graphic depiction of the human body. Despite this, it made an instant impact due to its imaginative portrayal of biblical themes.

Additionally, Michelangelo likely included his own self-portrait into The Last Judgment. According to art historians’ interpretations, he did so by pointing to the skin held by St. Bartholomew, which appears to show the face resembling that of Michelangelo’s.

Overall, Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment is a powerful depiction that showcases his immense creativity and imagination while also stirring controversy for its graphic portrayal of nudity. Its influence can be seen through many modern artworks that try to depict biblical themes in innovative ways while also retaining their original meaning for audiences.

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