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

Separation of Light from Darkness (with ignudi and medallions)

Cappella Sistina, Vatican

The first scene in the chronological order of the narrative, The Separation of Light from Darkness, is depicted in the centre of the vault of the ninth bay.

The beginning of the Creation is marked by the figure of God, seen from below, as he launches himself into infinite space with his arms raised, allowing spirals of light to sweep aside the darkness.

The poses of the four ignudi are very different from each other, without any attempt being made to obtain an effect of symmetry. Thus, the one above Jeremiah at the left, with a classical profile and a meditative attitude, contrasts sharply with the ungainly movement of the one the right, who laden with foliage and acorns, is throwing himself forward, his face in the shadow. On the opposite side, the two figures bend toward the centre, but with their torsos heads rotating in opposite directions with clearly distinct movements, splendidly rendered thanks to the artist's skilled use of perspective.

Above the cornices, the four ignudi bear medallions representing the Elijah ascending to Heaven on the Chariot of Fire (at left) and the Sacrifice of Isaac (at right).