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

Azor - Zadok

1511-12
Fresco
Cappella Sistina, Vatican

"Eliakim begat Azor. Azor begat Zadok. Zadok begat Achim." (Matthew 1:13-14)

This is the first lunette on the north wall.

The absence of information regarding the figures represented has thwarted any attempt to identify them. On the left a seated woman is shown indicating something outside the lunette to a boy (or a girl) who seems to be engrossed in writing or drawing and turns somewhat hesitantly. The woman's pose, with its great naturalness and self-possession, is a variation on the twisted head, shoulders, and legs of the other figures.

On the other side of the lunette, seen sideways on, but with his head turned toward the viewer, sits a solitary mature man, his face furrowed by deep lines. Tightly wrapped in his yellow ochre mantle, from which only his head and an arm emerge, he appears to be prey to distressing thoughts. The body, modelled concisely with great plastic power by the interplay of light and shade, and the pattern of the folds of the mantle, stands out clearly against the background.

The number of figures present in this lunette is half that of the first lunettes painted by Michelangelo. This sense of isolation intensifies the expressive power of the figure of the pensive man, which some interpreted as being an imaginary self-portrait of the artist.