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Sistine Chapel Michelangelo Paintings


Libyan Sibyl Within the Sistine Chapel Ceiling
Libyan Sibyl from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling paintings (ceiling 130 feet 6 inches x 43 feet 5 inches) in the Vatican.
Libyan Sibyl from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling paintings (ceiling 130 feet 6 inches x 43 feet 5 inches) in the Vatican.

Michelangelo's Libyan Sibyl can be seen on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (1508-12). With her regal pose and Hellenic features, she was known for her prophecy of the coming of a king born of a virgin. This figure is one of the finest on the ceiling. This sibyl is suspended in a dramatically twisted pose, or contrapposto, an effect that the artist repeated with equal brilliance in his 1530 sculpture Victory.

Michelangelo's rich and harmonious color palette, enveloping the sibyl in the folds of her sumptuous garments as they flow around her legs and drape across her throne, is especially evident after recent restoration.

Study for the Libyan Sibyl, red chalk drawing (11-3/8 x 8-1/2 inches), can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum, New York.
Study for the Libyan Sibyl, red chalk drawing (11-3/8 x 8-1/2 inches), can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

One of the finest surviving examples of Michelangelo's many drawings for the Sistine ceiling, the study for the Libyan Sibyl demonstrates the artist's careful attention to every detail of the figure. The red chalk drawing, done from a male model, shows a study of the face in the lower left-hand corner, in which the artist transformed the rough male features of his model into the Hellenic ideal of female beauty found in the final painting.

On the next page, learn why Prophet Daniel is a glowing example of Michelangelo's pictorial style.

To learn more about Michelangelo, art history, and other famous artists, see: