There’s a holy hush.
Tourists had been respectful in different ways in the preceding rooms of the Vatican Museum. Feeling sacred in the air, we stopped in each doorframe and snapped iPhone or DSLR photos of rotunda natural light. English, Italian, French, Chinese, and Spanish guided tours joined less educated babble, spouting dates and Pope names and pointing at marred marble dickelessness.
With over 300 figures and bigger than a football field, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel shut us up by the first step into the room.
And then —
“No photos! No pictures. Silenzio!”
Nothing can distract you from the crack in your neck squinting up at The Creation of Adam like uniformed Italian men yelling at the middle aged woman standing next to you that she’ll be kicked out if she snaps another photo.
I’ve been touring through Italy this past week for my spring break. Friday morning — coincidentally on Good Friday — I technically hit up another nation: the Vatican. In celebration of finishing my four hours in the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, here’s that morning’s SnapChat story and few links to references:
- The papal anti-exposed genitalia campaign got kicked off in the 1500s. Thankfully, Michelangelo’s David was completed just a few years beforehand.
- Classical depictions of Hercules always use the Nemean lion pelt to identify him. Which makes Disney being meta extra fun.
- The “classical sculpture with a lot of movement ???” depicts the gods’ murder of Laocoön and his sons, which was key to the foundation of Rome.
- The Ellen Degeneres standup routine I referenced in response to Raphael’s Disputation of the Holy Sacrament.
- The Van Gogh Pietà was tiny — about 13 by 16 inches — but more engaging as an individual artwork than the entire Sistine Chapel. Post-impressionism played with colors and brushstrokes in ways that high renaissance never reached. Plus, most classical Christian imagery was so physically far away or old that an online image can give you a better rendering. That said, go. Museums give an experiential appreciation that Googling on my iPhone never could.