Sistine Chapel revealed – the complete works of art

Source: FSSPX News


This first tome of the collection, realized by the German Jesuit Fr. Heinrich W. Pfeiffer, deals with successive decorative programs at the Sistine chapel. It is illustrated with 185 photographs, in both color and black and white, of the Chapel’s frescoes. Its author, an art historian and specialist in Christian iconography, is a professor of the history of Christian art at the Faculty of history of art and cultural assets of the Church of the Pontifical University in Rome.

Fr. Pfeiffer has been director of higher studies for the cultural assets of the Church and for five years a Member of the Pontifical Commission for cultural assets of the Church.

 Fr. Pfeiffer’s work encourages us to look again at these frescoes which we have already seen many times, in order to understand more profoundly their true meaning; that is, beyond their formal, aesthetic aspect there is the aspect of their reality: what does the artist seek to tell us through his interpretation? We must not forget that the great artists of the Italian Renaissance (Rinascimento), and also those of the Middle Ages were attentive readers of the Bible and of theology. And they represented figuratively in one way or another, these realities,” explained Mgr. Giovanni Lajolo, president of the governing body of the Vatican City.

 Fr. Pfeiffer explains in his book how the theologians of Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484) had defined a single and unique iconographical program, which continued under Popes Julius II (1503-1513) and Paul III Farnese (1534-1549), and was imposed on all artists. The first part of the work deals with scenes from the Old and New Testaments created under the Pontificate of Sixtus IV, the second deals with the frescoes of Michelangelo (1475-1564) painted under the pontificate of Julius II, the third is dedicated to the sibyls and the prophets, the fourth deals with the nine rectangles of the vault and the medallions of the naked youths. Finally, the fifth and last part of the work is dedicated to Michelangelo’s fresco of ‘The Last Judgment’ (1536-1541) .

 This first volume of 352 pages is published in Italian by Jaca Book, in French by Hazan Publications, in German by Belser Verlag, in English by Abbeville Press and in Spanish by Lunwerg. It will also appear in Polish, Russian, Lithuanian and Greek. The collection Monumenta Vaticana Selecta will continue with a volume by Nicole Dacos on the Loggia of Raphael (1483-1520), situated in the interior of the Vatican Museum. In preparation are volumes on the Gardens of the Vatican and the Casina Pius IV, on the Apostolic Palace and the Renaissance, and lastly on the tombs of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. (Sources: Apic/Imedia/RadioVatican)