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Back in the Day: Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling opens to the public

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Back in the Day: Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling opens to the public


November 1, 1512. Michelangelo’s artwork on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel opens for the first time to the public, four and a half years after the artist began painting. The work was commissioned by Pope Julius II, who insisted that Michelangelo, who was more renowned as a sculptor than a painter, carry it out. Michelangelo worked from a scaffolding built into the walls rather than from the floor up, and painted – rather uncomfortably according to the artist himself – standing up with his head tilted back. The centrepieces of the decoration are nine sections depicting scenes from the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Creation of Adam, in which the fingertips of God and Adam reach towards each other.

Also on November 1: the start of the reign of Russia’s last Tsar, Nicolas II, begins (1894); the United States carries out the first successful test of a Hydrogen bomb (1952); the Maastricht Treaty formally establishes the European Union (1993).

Born on November 1: LS Lowry (1887), Larry Flynt (1942), Jacques Attali (1943), Anthony Kiedis (1962), VVS Laxman (1974).

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