Liberal Arts Blog — The Sistine Chapel (Part II): the Eastern Wall: Moses (da Lecce) and Jesus (van den Broeck)
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Today’s Topic: The Sistine Chapel (Part II): the Eastern Wall: Moses (da Lecce) and Jesus (van den Broeck)
So what is on the Eastern Wall of the Sistine Chapel opposite to Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment”? This week I decided to find out and share what I learned. The short answer is a pair of paintings by two different artists one depicting Jesus and the other Moses, respectively the biggest stars of the New and Old Testament respectively. As a devout young Catholic boy, I never gave Moses much thought. It was all about Jesus. It was not until later that I realized how big a deal Moses was and is for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. For example, in the Quran Moses is mentioned 136 times versus 69 for Abraham 25 for Jesus and 4 for Muhammed. Next week the Northern and Southern Walls of the Sistine Chapel. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS — Hendrick van den Broeck (1530–1597)
1. Not quite the version of the Resurrection I was taught in elementary school. A bit more militaristic and violent.
2. But perhaps really a more accurate depiction of the Renaissance Catholic Church in its power and corruption. All those traits that sparked the Reformation.
3. Van den Broeck was born and trained in Flanders, then moved Italy at age 27 and remained there for the rest of his life. He moved from city to city as commissions dictated — from Florence to Orvieto to Rome to Perugia and back to Rome.
DEFENSE OF THE BODY OF MOSES — Matteo da Lecce (1547–1628)
1. Who knew that the body of Moses had to be defended? Not me. What an absolutely odd choice of subject don’t you think? What subject would you have chosen for the Eastern Wall?
2. The disputants are apparently Satan and the Archangel Michael, who was apparently given the job of digging a grave for Moses! Who knew!
3. This is apparently all in the “Epistle of Jude” which is “the penultimate book of the New Testament.” Any experts out there?
NB: Born in Lecce in Apulia, Matteo da Lecce spent most of his career in, of all places, Peru! He became known as “Matteo Perez.”
AND WHO IS THE SISTINE CHAPEL NAMED AFTER ANYWAY?
1. Pope Sixtus IV (1414–1484) who was Pope from 1477 to 1484 and made his mark on history by not only initiating work on the Sistine Chapel but also for founding both the Vatican Archives and the Spanish Inquisition.
2. He was was also “noted for his nepotism.” Not an unusual trait really. Then or, perhaps, now. But I guess he took it to extremes.
3. Where does the name “Sixtus” come from? According to WIkipedia it was a Roman word derived from the Greek, meaning “polished.” Kind of an odd name for a Pope it seems to me. Second theory: the first Pope to bear the name was the sixth Pope after Peter so that that origin is really “Sextus” meaning sixth. This seems a bit odd too. Pope Sixth I, Pope Sixth II, Pope Sixth III….Not enough saints and apostles to choose from?
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