Not until 1508 was the artist compelled back to Rome—not to renew work on the tomb, but to undertake a task ill-suited to a marble sculptor: the painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Michelangelo's objection that "painting is not my art" proved weak against the will of the pope. But once reconciled to the task, the artist devoted enormous energy to creating a masterpiece.Share
He wrote of his travails in an acerbic sonnet: "My beard to heaven. My chest bent like a harp. The dripping brush making a rich pavement of my face. My loins have been shoved into my guts, my butt is ballast." At the bottom of the sheet, Michelangelo complained: "I'm not in a good place, nor a painter." The ceiling, however, tells a different story, one of magnificent achievement and sublime beauty.
Michelangelo had no previous experience directing a large-scale campaign in the demanding medium of fresco, but here he employed more than a dozen painters and craftsmen to help carry out the herculean project: hauling water up 65 feet of treacherous ladders, slaking lime for plaster, grinding and mixing pigments, pricking and transferring preparatory drawings, and painting miles of architecture and ornament. (Read entire article.)