Michelangelo’s 40’s and Beyond…
Last Judgement, 1536-1541 Fresco, Sistine Chapel, Vatican, Rome
After Michelangelo completed the frescos for The Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, he retreated back to his home in Florence from 1516-1534. Michelangelo returned to Rome in 1534, now in his 40’s, because he was commissioned by pope Paul III to complete the Last Judgement. The Last Judgement is located on the alter wall of The Sistine Chapel, where the pope would deliver his sermon. The melancholy and rigid content was likely chosen for this piece to relate back to what was going on politically in Rome. Rome had just suffered from a sack in 1527 and the papacy was under attack from the Protestants in the North. This image of justice and punishment, therefore seems more fitting for the time. Figures are shown with no visual break depicting their class or order as they encircle Christ in the center.
Pieta Rondanini 1554-1564, Marble, Castello Sforzesco, Milan
The rest of Michelangelo’s life was mostly consumed by his work in architecture design. Before his death in 1564, Michelangelo returned to his love of sculpting and began working on additional Pieta statues. He worked on these statues up until 6 days before his death, never fully satisfied with his last projects. Below is a Pieta that he was carving for his own tomb. Toward the end of his life, he would often become so frustrated with his work that he would begin destroying it until his peers would plead with him to stop. This is evident in the Pieta below, not only is it unfinished, it is also damaged at multiple points.