From another one of my favorite blogs, A-Mused. If you need an uplifting read, highly recommended! Before you start, or when you finish, you can see a beautiful 360 degree panorama with heavenly music here.
THE SISTINE CHAPEL – “Without having seen the Sistine Chapel,
it’s not possible to have an idea of what one man is capable of doing” | Goethe
On November 1, All Saint’s Day, Pope Julius II celebrated a mass in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City for the first time in at least four years. Those who attended were the first people to see one of the most celebrated works of Western art—the magnificent frescoes painted by Michelangelo Buonarroti on the chapel’s ceiling.The earliest witnesses marvelled at the ceiling as much as people today do. Giorgio Vasari, artist and biographer of artists, wrote nearly forty years later that “When the work was thrown open, the whole world could be heard running up to see it, and, indeed, it was such as to make everyone astonished and dumb.”Below, is Michelangelo’s own poem about the awkward parturition of the Sistine Chapel. He provides a refreshing dose of reality. He writes energetically about despair, detailing with relish the unpleasant side of his work on the famous ceiling.
Michelangelo: To Giovanni da Pistoia
“When the Author Was Painting the Vault of the Sistine Chapel” —1509
I’ve already grown a goiter from this torture,
hunched up here like a cat in Lombardy
(or anywhere else where the stagnant water’s poison).
My stomach’s squashed under my chin, my beard’s
pointing at heaven, my brain’s crushed in a casket,
my breast twists like a harpy’s. My brush,
above me all the time, dribbles paint
so my face makes a fine floor for droppings!
My haunches are grinding into my guts,
my poor ass strains to work as a counterweight,
every gesture I make is blind and aimless.
My skin hangs loose below me, my spine’s
all knotted from folding over itself.
I’m bent taut as a Syrian bow.
Because I’m stuck like this, my thoughts
are crazy, perfidious tripe:
anyone shoots badly through a crooked blowpipe.
My painting is dead.
Defend it for me, Giovanni, protect my honor.
I am not in the right place—I am not a painter.
Translated by Gail Mazur