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Michelangelo and The Pope's Ceiling Paperback – May 8 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico; 1 edition (May 8 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844139328
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844139323
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 240 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #30,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

King's historical account of the four years Michelangelo Buonarroti spent frescoing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome is splendid, thorough and detailed. But its larger appeal lies in the way King (Brunelleschi's Dome) brings out the story's human elements. Listeners learn of Michelangelo's bitter disappointment when a project he was eagerly looking forward to (the construction of the Pope's tomb) was cancelled and that he had little experience with the art of fresco and was reluctant to take on the Sistine Chapel. King explains the craft of frescoing with involving details: for example, fresco dries quickly, so the artist could work only in small sections, and if a mistake was found after the paint dried, the whole day's work had to be chipped away and redone. Listeners also learn of Michelangelo's financial woes and family problems and the political upheavals of the time. Sklar's narration is perfect for the project. His lively and expressive reading add a realistic edge to a centuries-old tale. He speaks passionately and his accent on the Italian names and phrases is flawless.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

A celebrated novelist as well as a lively nonfiction writer, King casts fiction's spell as he tells the creation stories of crowning artistic achievements, first in the widely acclaimed Brunelleschi's Dome (2000), and now in this exciting account of the making of Michelangelo's magnificent Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes. Not only is King fluent in the complicated art of frescoing, a chancy technique sculptor Michelangelo (1475-1564) was loathe to undertake, he also relishes the tumultuous politics of early-sixteenth-century Rome, particularly the escapades of the irascible, syphilitic, gourmand Pope Julius II, Michelangelo's demanding patron. Everyone in Rome was terrified of this stick-wielding, bearded, warrior pope except for moody, homely, antisocial Michelangelo, and King recounts their skirmishes with as much verve as he chronicles the arduous efforts involved in creating the most famous ceiling in the world. Brilliant and tireless, Michelangelo designed an ingenious form of scaffolding and quickly mastered fresco's secrets so that he could paint his powerful, anatomically exact Old Testament figures freehand in an inspired frenzy. King chronicles Michelangelo's aesthetic decisions and clarion triumphs over myriad forms of adversity with expertise and contagious enthusiasm. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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