The Prophet Joel (c. 1508–1512) by Michelangelo

The Prophet Joel - Michelangelo - 1509

Artwork Information

TitleThe Prophet Joel
Dimensions355 x 380 cm
Art MovementHigh Renaissance
Current LocationSistine Chapel, Vatican

About The Prophet Joel

“The Prophet Joel” is a fresco by the illustrious artist Michelangelo, completed in the year 1509. This esteemed artwork, measuring 355 x 380 cm, is a quintessential example of the High Renaissance art movement and is characterized by its religious subject matter. It is one of the many Sistine Chapel Paintings located in the resplendent Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.

The artwork depicts the Prophet Joel, as described in the Hebrew Bible, absorbed in the study of a scroll. Michelangelo has rendered Joel with a profound sense of concentration and intellect, characteristics often attributed to prophets who were considered intermediaries between the divine and humankind. The figure of Joel is grand and monumental, a signature of Michelangelo’s style, portraying the prophet with deep, thoughtful eyes and a furrowed brow, suggesting a moment of intense revelation or contemplation.

The prophet’s attire is rendered with a rich array of colors; his orange robe and greenish tunic convey a strong sense of volume and form through their meticulous drapery. Light and shadow interplay masterfully on the folds of the fabric, demonstrating Michelangelo’s skillful use of chiaroscuro to create a three-dimensional effect on a two-dimensional surface.

Behind Joel, two smaller figures contribute to the narrative and compositional balance of the work. Their expressions and the direction of their gaze seem to reinforce the gravity of Joel’s reading and the importance of his role as a prophet.

In sum, this fresco stands as an icon of Renaissance art, capturing with exquisite detail and emotional intensity the spiritual grandeur of its subject. Michelangelo’s profound ability to marry sculptural form with painterly technique is evident, making “The Prophet Joel” an enduring testament to the artist’s unparalleled skill and the timeless ethos of the High Renaissance.

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