The Last Judgement by Michelangelo covers the wall behind the altar in the Sistine Chapel. The work depicts the second coming of Christ and, although the artist is clearly inspired by the Bible, it is his own imaginative vision that prevails in this painting.
The picture radiates out from the centre figure of Christ, and Michelangelo has chosen to depict the various saints included in the work holding the instruments of their martyrdom rather than the actual scenes of torture.
When executing his "Last Judgement" it would seem that Michelangelo had been given artistic licence to paint scenes, not only from the Bible but also from mythology. This shows great faith in the artist by his patron, Pope Paul III.
Unfortunately, it was decided that works of art in sacred places had to be modest and a pupil of Michelangelo, Daniele da Volterra, was commissioned to cover the figures nakedness with loincloths and veils. Originally all the figures were naked but da Volterra's intervention earned him the nickname of the maker of breeches.
Other overpainting was added in the next two centuries and for the same reason.
With the restoration of the chapel in the 1980s and 1990s only Daniele da Volterra's additions have been saved as part of the history of the painting, all other additions have now been removed.
"The Last Judgement"
48x44 feet, 1536-1541 Fresco, (s)
The fresco angles out at the top of the painting preventing dust from settling on it and also improving the perspective of the work. At the top of the painting the cross, the crown of thorns, and other symbols of the passion of Christ can be seen.