Art: An Unfamiliar Michelangelo

Vatican restorations go on

Down on the floor of the Sistine Chapel, it is winter tourist business as usual: the slow, noisy shuffling of packed bodies, as in a stockyard whose animals are all looking to heaven; the cricked necks, the bellowing guides, the august patterns on the remote ceiling. Up on the scaffolding, where the restorers are at work, things look quite different. The noise has receded; it is more like a hum of bees. The frescoes have moved forward, monopolizing one's whole field of attention, swollen, enormous in their intensity.

This is Michelangelo as he was not meant to be seen. One has...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!