Inauguration of the renovated Sistine Chapel
The entirely restored Sistine Chapel was inaugurated under the presidency of Jean-Paul II. Presentation of the mural fresco The Last Judgment whose restoration finally allows us to discover the details of this work, which took Michelangelo seven years to create.
Erected between 1477 and 1483, according to the wishes of pope Sixte IV (1471-1484), who wanted to provide the pope's hall with a new meeting room able to accommodate its 200 members, the college of 20 cardinals, the representatives of the orders and large families as well as the numerous laymen, the Sistine Chapel was built where the medieval Capella Magna was. Nevertheless, architect Baccio Pontelli preserved parts of the walls in order to elevate the work (21 metres high, 40 metres wide).
From the ground, covered with a medieval mosaic, up to the vault, and through the lateral walls and triangular rider arches, the entire space was designed to celebrate the events of Jesus Christ and Moses's lives, but also to honour the memory of the first popes. Famous artists were called upon to paint the Chapel's frescos (Boticelli, Le Pérugin, Ghirlandalo...), but the most famous one was Michelangelo, who hesitated at length before accepting to decorate the vault. It took him four years, from 1508 to 1512, to achieve the fresco dedicated to Christ's figure, and from 1536-1541 he added the Last Judgment to it. The Last Judgment, which is located at the end of the Sistine Chapel, was meant to celebrate the pope's newfound authority after the 1527 pillaging of the city by German mercenaries.
From 1980 to 1994, the most technically advanced experts in restoration worked to bring back the original colours and designs, an event which created controversy on behalf of specialists who had their own theories, based upon pre-restoration images.