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Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling

In 1508, despite strong advice to the contrary, the powerful Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo Buonarroti to paint the ceiling of the newly restored Sistine Chapel in Rome. During the four extraordinary years that Michelangelo spent laboring over the ceiling, power politics and personal rivalries swirled around him. He battled ill health, financial and family difficulties, inadequate knowledge of the art of fresco, and the Pope's impatience - a history that is more compelling than most novels.
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Publisher's Summary

In 1508, despite strong advice to the contrary, the powerful Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo Buonarroti to paint the ceiling of the newly restored Sistine Chapel in Rome. During the four extraordinary years that Michelangelo spent laboring over the 12,000 square foot ceiling, power politics and personal rivalries swirled around him. He battled ill health, financial and family difficulties, inadequate knowledge of the art of fresco, and the Pope's impatience - a history that is more compelling than most novels. The author presents a magnificent tapestry of day-to-day life for the artist, the upheaval of early 16th-century Italy, as well as uncommon insight into the intersection of art and history. In the end, Michelangelo produced one of the world's most renowned artistic wonders.

© Ross King; (P) 2003 The Audio Partners Publishing Corp.

What the Critics Say

"King chronicles Michelangelo's aesthetic decisions and clarion triumphs over myriad forms of adversity with expertise and contagious enthusiasm." (Booklist)
"King's historical account...is splendid, thorough, and detailed. Skylar's narration is perfect for the project. His lively and expressive reading add a realistic edge to a centuries-old tale." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (176 )
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4.2 (35 )
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  •  
    Anne Mission Hills, KS USA 05-17-03
    Anne Mission Hills, KS USA 05-17-03 Listener Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "History brought to life!"

    This is no dry history lesson! I became so engrossed with the details of Michelangelo's struggle to paint the Sistine Chapel that I bought an illustrated book and studied the paintings as I listened, following Michelangelo's four-year trek across the ceiling from one end to the other. Fascinating.

    33 of 33 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean Sioux Falls, SD, United States 03-16-05
    Sean Sioux Falls, SD, United States 03-16-05 Member Since 2004
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    "Fantastic"

    I bought this book because we're headed to Rome soon, and I wanted some background on what's considered to be one of the high water marks of artistic acheivement. Absolutely fascinating. As 1 other reviewer mentioned, it would be a good idea to have recent full-color photos of the chapel to refer to while listening.

    It was amazing to realize that Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel while the Church was at war with the Venitians, the French, and various other city-states in Italy. This book will definately enhance our upcoming visit.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hollis Fairfax, CA, USA 12-04-07
    Hollis Fairfax, CA, USA 12-04-07 Member Since 2004
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    "sistine chapel"

    I really enjoyed this book, as a historic novel it was well written and enjoyable. It made me want to go back to Italy to see the Sistine chapel again!!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Traveler Massachusetts 04-02-07
    Traveler Massachusetts 04-02-07
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    "History Comes Alive"

    As another reviewer wrote, I wanted some background on some of the sites we plan to visit soon. I highly recommend this book for travelers to Rome and also those who enjoy historical drama. A fascinating account of art, religion, politics, family, and war. The narration was suberb.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LakerzPhan 04-27-12
    LakerzPhan 04-27-12
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    "Listened to this multiple times"
    What made the experience of listening to Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling the most enjoyable?

    I've listened to this book 3 times. It's extremely well written, engaging, and the narrator is a little over the top but very listenable. It's a good read.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Berkeley, CA, United States 09-23-11
    Elizabeth Berkeley, CA, United States 09-23-11 Member Since 2006
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    "A "must read" before touring the Vatican"

    This book was recommended to me before a recent trip to Rome and I'm so glad I heeded the advice. Aside from providing a wonderful historical and biographical perspective on the characters/times associated with the Sistine Chapel, the performance and story line are well worth the listen. Maybe it will inspire you to make that trip to Rome.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alnia Perpoz nyc 12-19-08
    Alnia Perpoz nyc 12-19-08 Member Since 2005
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    "Ok book, very accessible. Narrator is mismatched"

    The book is a good essay on the chapel project with in depth coverage of the work itself, Michelangelo's personal life as well as interesting digressions on contemporary events.

    I got this book because I really (!) liked "Judgment of Paris" and like this one less. For one it is the earlier of the two and the rivalry plot is not as well fleshed out. The other because the narrator is mismatched with the text. I heard him read a XIX c. sailing memoir and his swagger was appropriate. But it brings an odd note of infantilism to this work. Anyway, the narrator is not that big of a deal in any case.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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