The Last Judgement Painting


Michelangelo was active during the High Renaissance and Mannerist art periods as a sculptor, architect, and painter. He was considered one of the best artists among the greats, like da Vinci.

historical overview

The Sistine Chapel is part of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican City in Rome, Italy. In 1508, Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling; this was done between 1508 and 1512.

subject matter

To the right of the composition, we notice the figures who are on their way to Hell and angels vigorously warding those away from the reaches of Heaven.

subject matter

Christ’s figure is surrounded by various saints, martyrs, and angels, who are referred to as the elect. To His left (our right) are prominent Apostles like Saint Peter, who holds the keys to heaven in his hands.

subject matter

The upper part features two lunettes and depicted in these are the symbols from Christ’s Passion, namely, the Cross, Christ’s Crown of Thorns, and the Pillar he stood against when he was flagellated.

subject matter

Behind Christ is a golden yellow light, suggestive of the Sun, emphasizing his prominence and power. Some sources suggest that it is reminiscent of the Greek mythological god Apollo who was the god of the Sun.


Michelangelo incorporated many symbolic references and metaphors in The Last Judgment painting, making strong references to the writings of the Italian poet Dante Alighieri.

color, light & texture

There seems to be a light source illuminating the top two-thirds of the painting and as it moves downwards there is more shadow, which is fitting for the subject matter of the painting.

perspective & scale

The perspective is different from other paintings where figures receded in space with the use of the linear perspective technique, this technique was utilized to create depth. 


The painting is a controversial version of the Last Judgment prophecy compared to other versions. Most of the criticism was around the explicit nudity of the figures and how Michelangelo combined mythology with religious subjects.