"The Creation of Adam" Painting

by Edward Lincoln

"The Creation of Adam" is one of Michelangelo's most famous works.

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"The Creation of Adam" is one of the most renowned paintings from the classical art period. It is the fourth painting in a series of frescoes by Michelangelo depicting Biblical narratives from the Book of Genesis. The painting is on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.


In accordance with the narrative in Genesis, the painting depicts God creating Adam. The central focus of the painting is the longing of God and Adam as they reach out toward one another. God is depicted with a sense of motion, as if moving toward Adam, who remains stationary. The composition is dynamic and exciting in nature, causing the viewer to anticipate the moment when the fingers of God and Adam make contact, thus signifying creation.


Michelangelo completed "The Creation of Adam" sometime around 1511, taking approximately three weeks to finish the work. He was commissioned by Pope Julius II to plan and execute the painting, as well as the accompanying frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Art historians consider Michelangelo a High Renaissance artist since his work was created during the 15th century at the end of the overall Renaissance period, which began in Italy in the 13th century.


"The Creation of Adam" is considered a fresco, meaning that Michelangelo's paint consisted of a water and pigment mixture that was quickly applied to wet plaster. The wet plaster, when dry, served as a binding agent for the paint. Michelangelo hired assistants who helped to prepare his paints and to apply the plaster to specific portions of the ceiling just prior to painting. Frescoes were common among Renaissance artists.


Michelangelo constructed a series of scaffolds that allowed him to paint on the expansive ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It was a difficult and uncomfortable undertaking, during which Michelangelo spent a great deal of time standing on ladders and looking upward while painting. Due to the slight curve in the chapel's ceiling, Michelangelo had to make adjustments to his composition to accommodate for any distortion in the finished image. When viewed from below, the painting appears flat.


About the Author

Edward Lincoln has been a writer, illustrator and social-media designer since 2008. His work has appeared on Natasha's Art Candy and in "WhateverLife" magazine. He has been awarded by the state of Michigan for artistic achievement and has been featured at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit.

Photo Credits

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