The Sistine Chapel

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the astonishing work of Michelangelo (1477-1564) in this great chapel in the Vatican, firstly the ceiling with images from Genesis (of which the image above is a detail) and later The Last Judgement on the altar wall. For the Papacy, Michelangelo's achievement was a bold affirmation of the spiritual and political status of the Vatican, of Rome and of the Catholic Church. For the artist himself, already famous as the sculptor of David in Florence, it was a test of his skill and stamina, and of the potential for art to amaze which he realised in his astonishing mastery of the human form.

With

Catherine Fletcher
Professor of History at Manchester Metropolitan University

Sarah Vowles
The Smirnov Family Curator of Italian and French Prints and Drawings at the British Museum

And

Matthias Wivel
The Aud Jebsen Curator of Sixteenth-Century Italian Paintings at the National Gallery

Producer: Simon Tillotson