The Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, is one of the most famous paintings of the High Renaissance. The ceiling is that of the large Sistine Chapel built within the Vatican by Pope Sixtus IV, begun in 1477 and finished by 1480. The paintings on the ceiling represent Biblical stories about the Creation, Downfall and Salvation of Humankind.
The ceiling's various painted elements form part of a larger scheme of decoration within the Chapel, which includes the large fresco The Last Judgment on the sanctuary wall, also by Michelangelo, wall paintings by several leading painters of the late 15th century including Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Pietro Perugino, and a set of large tapestries by Raphael, the whole illustrating much of the doctrine of the Catholic Church.
Central to the ceiling decoration are nine scenes from the Book of Genesis. The scenes from Genesis on the ceiling includes Genesis 1 Separation of Light from Darkness, Genesis 2 Creation of the Sun Moon and Plants, Genesis 3 Separation of the Earth from the Waters, Genesis 4 Creation of Adam, Genesis 5 Creation of Eve, Genesis 6 Fall and Expulsion from Eden, Genesis 7 Sacrifice of Noah, Genesis 8 The Deluge, Genesis 9 Drunkenness of Noah.
Among them, the Creation of Adam is the best known, having an iconic standing equalled only by Mona Lisa of Leonardo da Vinci, the hands of God and Adam being reproduced in countless imitations. The complex design includes several sets of individual figures, both clothed and naked, which allowed Michelangelo to fully demonstrate his skill in creating a huge variety of poses for the human figure, and have provided an enormously influential pattern book of models for other artists ever since.
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