The Sistine Chapel was built for the Pope Sixtus IV (1473-84) by Giovannino de’ Dolci. The walls were decorated by the contemporary greatest artists: Sandro Botticelli, (see some of his masterpieces at the WebMuseum and at the Carol Jackson ‘s page) Il Ghirlandaio, Pinturicchio, and Luca Signorelli . The picture topics were chosen according to the medioeval concept of the partition of the world history into three epochs: before the ten commandments were given to Moses, between Moses and Christ ‘s birth, and the Christian era thereafter. The second and the third era have been represented in the Quattrocento frescoes on the Chapel ‘s side walls with stories drawn from the life of Moses and Jesus Christ.
When Pope Julius II in 1508 finally convinced Michelangelo (other works at the WebMuseum and at the Carol Jackson ‘s page) to paint the vault, till then covered by golden stars on a blue sky, the artist chose the first era as the theme of his work. He painted then the Creation, the birth of Adam and Eve, the expulsion from the Paradise, and other scenes. The vault was finished in 1512, at the very top of the Renaissance epoch. In 1534, Michelangelo started the Last Judgment, on the altar wall, just seven years after the catastrophic Sacco di Roma , the invasion of Rome by the lanzichenecchi , the soldiers of the German emperor Carlo V. This invasion marks the end of the glorious Renaissance period, and the masterpiece was heavily influenced by such a dramatic event. Michelagelo completed the work in seven years, under Pope Paul III.
The Sistine Chapel is now open to public as part of the Vatican Museums,