Special Focus: The Sistine Chapel

The “Restoration of the Century”, as it has been called by many, is now complete. The Sistine Chapel shines forth in all its beauty at the beginning of the third millennium of Christianity. It is thanks to the generous financial support of the patrons that the great fresco cycles of the lives of Moses and Christ, as well as the Cantoria and the Transenna, in the Sistine Chapel are restored to their original splendor.

Thanks are also due to those whose talents as art conservators have made this possible. Their work has been in progress since 1979 and only today is the fruit of this intense labor completely visible.

Often over-looked because of Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel are the two decorative fresco cycles on the lateral walls of the Sistine Chapel. Commissioned by Sixtus IV, the same pope who had the Sistine Chapel built, the two cycles depict events from the lives of Moses and Christ. They underline the continuity between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, or the transition from the Mosaic law to the Christian religion. The frescoes were executed by a team of painters including Perugino, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Luca Signorelli and Cosimo Rosselli, and were assisted by members of their workshops, among whom were Pinturicchio, Piero di Cosimo, and Bartolomeo della Gatta. The work was begun in 1481 and completed in 1483.