(b. 1475, Caprese, d. 1564, Roma)

Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Plants

Fresco, 280 x 570 cm
Cappella Sistina, Vatican

The second scene in the chronological order of the narrative, the Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Plants, is depicted in the large field of the vault of the eighth bay, between the triangular spandrels.

In this scene the figure of the Lord appears twice: on the right, as he is about to give shape, with his outstretched arms, to the incandescent disk of the sun and the cold one of the moon; and, on the other side, as, with an imperious gesture, he summons forth tufts of grass and the first bushes from the bare earth. The scene is divided unequally: the great disk of the sun - the only element of colour that stands out clearly from the more subdued tones of the clothes, flesh, and the greyish white background of the sky - is to the left of the central axis of the field, and the whole of the right part is dominated by the figure of the Creator who, surrounded by four children, moves impetuously toward the viewer.

On the left, in a more restricted field, and further back from the picture plane, the Creator is depicted once again - notably foreshortened and seen from behind - as he heads toward the earth, going away from the foreground. Together with the strong contrasts of light and shade, the movement in opposite directions of the two figures heightens the dynamic tension of the scene and conveys a sense of immediacy.