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How was the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling painted?

How was the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling painted?
Explore the tools and techniques behind Michelangelo’s lofty Renaissance masterpiece
In painting the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling in the early part of the 16th century Michelangelo had to overcome a number of daunting hurdles. The first comes directly from the physical properties of the ceiling, as it is a barrel vault, which is a curved surface. To make it more difficult still, that barrel vault is intersected with smaller vaults positioned over the windows. As such there are no flat surfaces anywhere except around the windows, where the artist also painted a series of half-moon-shaped lunettes. As a result, even prior to picking up a paintbrush Michelangelo had to first work out how to create realistic portrayals of human figures in proper proportion and in motion on these wildly uneven surfaces. His ability to pull this off is testament to his immense artistic skill.

Another major challenge in painting the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling was actually getting up there, as it is 20 metres (65 feet) above the floor. Fortunately, a conservation campaign that started in the Eighties revealed the method Michelangelo employed to reach such heights: he constructed a complex scaffold. The scaffold consisted of a truss bridge that spanned across the vault and ran on rails that were at a 90-degree angle to the walls. This permitted Michelangelo to access all areas of the ceiling as the scaffolding could be moved along the rails – it was only ever covering a quarter of the vault at any one time, as he needed ambient light from the windows to paint. Interestingly, the holes that supported this structure can still be seen in the walls to this day.
The third problem Michelangelo had to tackle was how to lay out the sketch lines for the entire ceiling. He did this by dividing the vault into various units by stretching chalked strings from one end of the chapel to the other (with help from assistants), before snapping them against the prepared plaster. In doing this, he laid out the linear structure of all the architecture, which is consistent throughout.
The last major obstacle that Michelangelo faced was the sheer scale of the project, which incredibly only took four years to complete. Painting the ceiling was a massive logistical undertaking and so he invited some of his friends from Florence to Rome to aid him.
As well as painting some of the recurring elements, such as columns and statues, these assistants  helped him to build the scaffolding and mix/prepare the plaster, as well as lending a hand with the  manufacture of paints, the trimming of paintbrushes and the sketching of full-sized drawings on paper for  transferral onto the vault. This latter process involved the paper sketch being pressed against the ceiling, pricked with small holes around the outlines and then covered with black chalk dust to produce a dotted outline on the plaster.

How was the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling painted