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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. King Stays on Point
I enjoy reading biographies and Mr. King is one of the better writers when documenting those periods of European History he chooses. He wrote a wonderful book about Brunelleschi, and now offers readers and even more ambitious work on Michelangelo and Pope Julius II. Many writers seem to often stray, and are too sweeping and inclusive of other persons and events that also...
Published on March 6 2003 by taking a rest

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3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!
This lively, well written book details the history of the world's most famous fresco.

Clearly, incredible research has been carried out by the author on a variety of specific topics, including the background and personality of Michelangelo's assistants, the location and lay-out of his workshop and how frescoes are actually made (from pre-drawn cartoons, largely...
Published 7 months ago by Pierre Gauthier


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. King Stays on Point, March 6 2003
I enjoy reading biographies and Mr. King is one of the better writers when documenting those periods of European History he chooses. He wrote a wonderful book about Brunelleschi, and now offers readers and even more ambitious work on Michelangelo and Pope Julius II. Many writers seem to often stray, and are too sweeping and inclusive of other persons and events that also took place during the time they are documenting. Mr. King gives enough information to keep his subjects and their pursuits in context without diluting the premise of his books.
The painting of the Sistine Chapel may seem like too well worn a subject for another book but the author dispels so many misconceptions about the events that were involved in this creation that his clarifications are worth the read on their own. The book also includes magnificent color plates and numerous black and white drawings that make the book all the more interesting. But the images add to the book, they do not act as a crutch for an author lacking information.
Did Michelangelo paint while lying on his back, the book answers that question by sharing a letter and diagram of Michelangelo that he penned himself sharing the manner by which he worked? Were the frescoed ceiling and vaults designed and painted by Michelangelo on his own, how long did the work really take, and how close did the work come to be handed over to another artist before its completion?
The author also demonstrates the influence and politics that were a daily part of working for The Vatican and this particular Pope. Mr. King will share the discovery and rapid rise of the artist Raphael who was painting at The Vatican simultaneously with Michelangelo. Bramante who was to initiate the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Cathedral was also always present, in the shadows or in front, scheming or openly attempting to influence who would gain specific commissions for the Pope. And there is also the famous/infamous Savonarola who held great influence with the artist who painted the 12,000sf ceiling at a time when approving of the doomed holy man could mean death to those who shared his thoughts.
I have no way of knowing which person or architectural marvel Mr. King will turn to next. He explores several fascinating people in this work that would fill several additional books. I only hope that he continues to produce these eminently readable and enjoyable studies of History and her participants.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!, Dec 23 2013
By 
Pierre Gauthier (Montréal) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Michelangelo and The Pope's Ceiling (Paperback)
This lively, well written book details the history of the world's most famous fresco.

Clearly, incredible research has been carried out by the author on a variety of specific topics, including the background and personality of Michelangelo's assistants, the location and lay-out of his workshop and how frescoes are actually made (from pre-drawn cartoons, largely by assistants, and, in this case as in general, standing up, not lying on your back!).

The author intertwines the story of the fresco with the contemporary history of Rome and even includes cameos about Erasmus and Martin Luther. Though the chapters are short and the book easy to read, some readers may indeed find that the flow of thought is in fact too frequently interrupted by these sidebars.

The major shortcoming for this book is the lay-out. It is hopelessly traditional with rough grained black and white images inserted in the main text and all colour photos grouped together in a few pages in the middle of the book. The reader must resort to an outside source to obtain visuals that allow full understanding of the text!

Nevertheless, this book will prove worthwhile to all interested in Rome, art or the Renaissance.
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5.0 out of 5 stars book, July 30 2013
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very good book and very good stories (story) when you start reading it you can't stop ever after I recommand it
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story., Jan. 31 2006
By A Customer
A well written account of Michelangelo's life,personality and various works. It also gives a flavour of the history and times he lived in as well as including relevant photographs that are beautiful. It includes so much detail that really added to my enjoyment of the book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good, overall - more on the topic would have been better., July 12 2004
By A Customer
I'm not a fan of historical books but the topic of arts intertwigled with the Papacy was too good for me to resist. The book is a very well written, real non-fiction page-turner, which does not have the typical hundred names and hundreds places and dates of the typical historical book. It has plenty of interesting facts about the time of Michelangelo's fresco paintings, and places the topic well in the time and place context of such an age. However, there is a relatively small proportion of the book that is specifically focused on the topic of the title. Rather, the author sidetracks time and time again on events that occur at the time when the Sistine Chapel ceiling was being painted. Although not related, the topics described are quite interesting and the overall narration flows quite well.
This is definetly not a biography on Michelangelo, neither is it a compendium on fresco painting. It is a very good historical book, which could have been complemented with plenty of more insights into the subject matter rather than delving on tangents.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Tremendously focused and comprehensive history, July 7 2004
Appreciators of art, particularly the classics, will have a field day with Ross King's Michelangelo & The Pope's Ceiling, not just because it gives a blow-by-blow account of how one man, figuratively if not literally, could achieve a creation of such power, grace, and style that it still remains today one of the most famous works of art in the world. Add to that a complex history of the papacy and European monarchies and you've got a wonderful narrative, supplemented by accurate technical information on exactly how the whole thing was brought about.
If you've seen the film The Agony and the Ecstacy, you've only gotten a fraction of the story behind the Sistine Chapel ceiling and indeed, the perceptions of one man painting while on his back that have lingered are in large part due to tales like it. However, as King is quick to point out, while Michelangelo's genius was the driving force there were other artists involved who get the short shrift of history.
The book also gives generous space to Raphael, the rival and artist working elsewhere in the Vatican at the time and, naturally, to the amazing character of Julius II, a pope who clearly did not conform to tradition. Elements of both the Sistine ceiling and Raphael's work are given thoughtful attention and analysis.
The detailed descriptions of the methods and techniques employed by the artists were interesting, but in some instances went on for too long and took something away from the narrative flow that had been established. Even so, it was very educational and entertaining.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best way to meet Michelangelo, July 3 2004
By 
William A. Gast "support the Vets" (New Braunfels Texas) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
King exhibits a masters touch in his descriptive writing, panache and almost daily record of the artists life. The reader is taken into the work area of the master and provided a firsthand knowledge of how the conditions of this era played upon the capability of producing artistic results. The descriptions of the personalities of King's characters reflect the detailed research this author has done with much discipline to properly set the atmosphere for the reader. The description of the diferences between Michelangel's and Raphael's use of assistants and teaching is a typical, interesting side story. " He ( Michaelangelo) was interested in instilling his art in only "noble people"....and not in plebeins"
King also is not intimidated by other authors writing on this era. In fact, it is refreshing to see his references to Condivi,George Bull, and Lehmann in much of his storytelling.
Truly a "keeper" for the grndkids to read as an into to Michaelangelo Buonarroti
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good... but somehow not so good, June 26 2004
By 
I know I'm a lone voice on this, but I felt the same way about Brunelleschi's Dome. This book really should have been fascinating: it is so chock full of very interesting information about a range of very interesting subjects... from the art itself to Michelangelo's whiny family to the crazy Pope who wants to be a soldier. Between the fights, battles, and plagues it should have been an action-packed adventure through the streets of 15th century Rome. Somehow, though, the author's writing style is so dry that it has taken me months to get through this book, when it should have only taken a few days. I kept wanting to get back to it, but when I picked it up I would get so bored that I would quickly put it down again.
I don't want to not recomend this book... it is well researched and about some very fascinating subjects. Other people might not mind the dry writing style. But you might want to read a chapter before you buy it to see if you take to it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, June 25 2004
By A Customer
I got this book as a BDay gift and although being a history fan, I tought it is gonna be just way too much information about Sistine Chapel's painting, but how wrong I was. This book is written so wisely and interstingly that I couldn't put it down. The way Ross King talks about not only Michelangelo's life and art but also other great artists of his time; in addition a nice mixture of art hstory and history surrunding these characters are absolutely fascinating. Having recently visited Italy, I am kicking myself why I didn't read this book before my trip. If you like history and in particular European history, you won't regret reading it. Because of this book and my fascination with Europe, I just purchased a book on Papcy named "Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes." So far it is pretty intersting, I will post my comments once I am done with the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, June 18 2004
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This is a fascinating story if you're interested in art and italy! brings the best of both worlds and you'll have trouble putting the book down!
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Michelangelo and The Pope's Ceiling
Michelangelo and The Pope's Ceiling by Ross King (Paperback - May 8 2006)
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