Book Review: Michelangelo And The Pope's Ceiling

I just finished a very interesting book by Ross King called, "Michelangelo And The Pope's Ceiling". I was drawn to read the book, originally, to learn more about Michelangelo, but the work offers so much more. The author examines the motives and points of view from both Michelangelo and Pope Julius II and their artist/patron relationship to revise the interior of The Sistine Chapel. Though the writing revolves around these two main characters, King also delves into personal, political, historical and artistic insights as well. The book additionally explores several of myths surrounding the painting of the chapel's ceiling.

I found it interesting though Michelangelo emphatically prefered sculpture to any other medium (i.e. painting and architecture), the frescoes he painted in the Sistine Chapel impressed and inspired his contemporaries while remaining some of his most famous works to this day. In fact, not only did several years elapse since the artist completed his last painting, but he had never actually worked on a fresco before. The book explains what a technical challenge this was, as Michelangelo literally learned this skill as he painted the Sistine Chapel's ceiling.

All in all, the book proved to be a wealth of information, terminology and inspiration to me. The writing really warmed up as the book progressed. If my academic readings had been this interesting, back in the day, I just might have retained more history. All in all, I give it 6 out of 7 brushes. I hold out on the last brush, because I would have liked to read a follow up on the fresco of the altar wall (of The Last Judgement); the book only covers the work Michelangelo did on the ceiling, as that was the work specifically commissioned by Julius. No doubt, I will be making more references to the book in forthcoming blogs. In the meantime, I definitely recommend reading this.