Works of art #1, #2, #3, #4, #5

Piece: The Sistine Chapel Ceiling
Artist: Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni
About: High renaissance painting, in which nine scenes from the book of Genesis are shown. Michelangelo painted in a cramped position over four years, a position he became so used to that when he received a letter during this period he had to hold it over his head and bend backwards to read it.

Sistine Chapel

Piece: Ognissanti Madonna
Artist: Giotto di Bondone
About: The Italians were convinced that an entirely new epoch of art had begun with the appearance of Giotto: he rediscovered the illusion of depth on a flat surface, with the use of foreshortening, and shadows.

Madonna and child enthroned with angels and saints

Piece: The Birth of Venus
Artist: Sandro Botticelli
About: As soon as the idea of making a picture a mirror of reality was adopted, the rigid systems that had previously created such harmony in pictures were thrown out of the window. Botticelli managed to create an image that was balanced, harmonious, and beautiful without rigid symmetry. So much so, we don’t notice the liberties he took – look closely at Venus’ unusually long neck, and her curve dropped shoulders.

The Birth of Venus

Piece: David
Artist: Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni
About: The sheer scale of this statue amazed me, I’d always though it would be much smaller. Originally commissioned to stand on the Duomo cathedral roof, the Vestry board decided it was too beautiful to be put somewhere so out-of-sight and so a new site was found for it.

Statue of David

Piece: The Inspiration of St Matthew
Artist: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
About: Caravaggio’s intention was to copy nature faithfully, whether it be beautiful or ugly. His use of light is harsh and in your face, contrasting with dark shadows, to create a scene of uncompromising honesty. So this piece is interesting because it is in fact a compromise; Caravaggio created a previous version of the painting but it was rejected by the person paying the commission for being too gritty. This is what he created after that round of feedback…

The inspiration of St Matthew

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