For almost 500 years, Protestants and Catholics have had a tug-of-war over the great artist and his work.
On the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, this series of articles has been looking at how the Church responded to this turbulent age by finding an artistic voice to proclaim Truth through Beauty. This column looks at how art was designed to confront challenges raised by the Reformation with the soothing and persuasive voice of art, and ends here, with the Last Judgment.
Michelangelo’s Last Judgment painting in the Sistine chapel was so tremendous that it sparked controversy from the moment of its unveiling on October 31, 1541, during vespers of All Saint’s Day (today’s Halloween). His contemporary Nino Sernini, reporting to Cardinal Gonzaga, wrote, “The work is of such beauty that your excellency can imagine that there is no lack of those who condemn it. . . ”
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