Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling by Ross King

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Synopsis

In 1508, despite strong advice to the contrary, the powerful Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo Buonarroti to paint the ceiling of the newly restored Sistine Chapel in Rome. Despite having completed his masterful statue David four years earlier, he had little experience as a painter, even less working in the delicate medium of fresco, and none with challenging curved surfaces such as the Sistine ceiling’s vaults. The temperamental Michelangelo was himself reluctant: He stormed away from Rome, incurring Julius’s wrath, before he was eventually persuaded to begin.

Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling recounts the fascinating story of the four extraordinary years he spent laboring over the twelve thousand square feet of the vast ceiling, while war and the power politics and personal rivalries that abounded in Rome swirled around him. A panorama of illustrious figures intersected during this time—the brilliant young painter Raphael, with whom Michelangelo formed a rivalry; the fiery preacher Girolamo Savonarola and the great Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus; a youthful Martin Luther, who made his only trip to Rome at this time and was disgusted by the corruption all around him. Ross King blends these figures into a magnificent tapestry of day-to-day life on the ingenious Sistine scaffolding and outside in the upheaval of early-sixteenth-century Italy, while also offering uncommon insight into the connection between art and history.
 

About Ross King

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Born and raised in Canada, Ross King has lived in England since 1992. In 2002—03, two books of his were published in the United States, Domino, about the world of masquerades and opera in 18th century London and the New York Times bestselling Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling.
 
Published October 14, 2014 by Bloomsbury USA. 304 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Religion & Spirituality, Arts & Photography, Travel, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling

Kirkus Reviews

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King supplies a richly nuanced view of Michelangelo and company’s day-to-day life in the Sistine Chapel, placing it in the context of the overall Renaissance, a time of plenty of bloodshed and intrigue, but also of extraordinary artistic accomplishment thanks to the likes of Julius, Cesare Borgia...

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Publishers Weekly

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King's historical account of the four years Michelangelo Buonarroti spent frescoing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome is splendid, thorough and detailed. But its larger appeal lies in t

Apr 07 2003 | Read Full Review of Michelangelo and the Pope's C...

The Guardian

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Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling by Ross King 371pp, Chatto & Windus, £17.99 Writing Michelangelo Buonarroti's life is a tough option.

Oct 26 2002 | Read Full Review of Michelangelo and the Pope's C...

Publishers Weekly

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King (Brunelleschi's Dome) re-creates Michelangelo's day-to-day world: the assistants who worked directly on the Sistine Chapel, the continuing rivalry with Raphael and the figures who had much to do with his world if not his art (da Vinci, Savonarola, Ariosto, Machiavelli, Martin Luther, Erasmus...

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The Sunday Times

Chatto £17.99 pp371 Charlton Heston, for all we know, looks so much like the real Moses that he could part the Red Sea.

Jan 05 2003 | Read Full Review of Michelangelo and the Pope's C...

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