Sistine Chapel on Stamps




The Last Judgement

Quattrocento Decoration

The Ceiling Frescoes

Raphael's Tapestries and their cartoons




Sistine Chapel Michelangelo
Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) Sanzio Raffaello (1483 - 1524) Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494)

Sistine Chapel is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in the Vatican City. It is famous for its architecture and its decoration that was frescoed throughout by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio and others. Under the patronage of Pope Julius II, Michelangelo painted 1,100 m2 (12,000 sq ft) of the chapel ceiling between 1508 and 1512. The ceiling, and especially The Last Judgment (1535–1541), is widely believed to be Michelangelo's crowning achievement in painting.

The chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored the old Cappella Magna between 1477 and 1480. During this period a team of painters that included Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli and Domenico Ghirlandaio created a series of frescoed panels depicting the life of Moses and the life of Christ, offset by papal portraits above and trompe l’oeil drapery below. These paintings were completed in 1482, and on 15 August 1483, Sixtus IV celebrated the first mass in the Sistine Chapel for the Feast of the Assumption, at which ceremony the chapel was consecrated and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Since the time of Sixtus IV, the chapel has served as a place of both religious and functionary papal activity. Today it is the site of the Papal conclave, the process by which a new Pope is selected.

The walls are divided into three main tiers. The lower is decorated with frescoed wall hangings in silver and gold. The central tier of the walls has two cycles of paintings, which complement each other, The Life of Moses and The Life of Christ. They were commissioned in 1480 by Pope Sixtus IV and executed by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Cosimo Roselli and their workshops.

The upper tier is divided into two zones. At the lower level of the windows is a Gallery of Popes painted at the same time as the Lives. Around the arched tops of the windows are areas known as the lunettes which contain the Ancestors of Christ, painted by Michelangelo as part of the scheme for the ceiling.

The ceiling, commissioned by Pope Julius II and painted by Michelangelo between 1508 to 1512, has a series of nine paintings showing God's Creation of the World, God's Relationship with Mankind, and Mankind's Fall from God's Grace. On the large pendentives that support the vault are painted twelve Biblical and Classical men and women who prophesied that God would send Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind.

In 1515, Raphael was commissioned by Pope Leo X to design a series of ten tapestries to hang around the lower tier of the walls. Raphael was at the time twenty-five. The subjects he chose were based on the text of the Acts of the Apostles. Work began in mid-1515. Due to their large size, manufacture of the hangings was carried out in Brussels, and took four years under the hands of the weavers in the shop of Pieter van Aelst.


High-resolution interactive virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel

(Source of Text : Wikipedia)