The Creation of Adam

WHO WAs michelangelo?

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarotti Simoni was a Renaissance sculptor, painter, poet, and architect. He  created some of the most beautiful sculptures in art history today.

historical overview

The Sistine Chapel tells a story to anyone who enters its space, physically or virtually. It is a treasure trove of frescoes, a home to hundreds of painted figures who are all part of a Biblical narrative, occupying its walls and ceiling.

subject matter

We see two large male figures, God is depicted to the right and Adam is to the left. There is a small gap between Adam’s and God’s touching hands, or almost-touching hands. 


If we turn our gaze to Adam, we will notice he is in a reclining pose on what appears to be a grassy hillside. Adam is fully nude compared to God and he too has a muscular figure. He does not have a beard and is visibly younger.


God is looking at Adam as He stretches out towards him, dynamic in His countenance. His figure is similarly actively engaging as He reaches to Adam. Their figures appear equidistant from one another.


There is a harmony of color in this composition because of the similar skin tones throughout. The backdrop of colors like green, blue, and red creates a contrasting effect and a different color value compared to the lighter value of the figures.


We can see an implied texture for the drapery and clothing, which appear light and diaphanous. The figures are all painted with smooth skin textures, and some also have more plump flesh while others are more muscularly taught.


There is a compositional balance created in God’s and Adam’s positioning. Their placements divide the composition into two parts. Adam’s shape has often been described as “concave” and God’s shape as “convex”.


Frank Lynn Meshberger M.D. posited that the form we see behind the figure of God and the 12 angelic figures resemble the anatomical structure of the human brain.