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

Zerubbabel - Abiud - Eliakim

1511-12
Fresco, 215 x 430 cm
Cappella Sistina, Vatican

"Shealtiel begat Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel begat Abiud. Abiud begat Eliakim." (Matthew 1:12-13)

The tablets in a number of lunettes bear three names: in these cases one of the three refers to the group depicted in the spandrel above. Except for the four corner spandrels the spandrels form part of the sequence of the ancestors of Christ.

In the absence of any information, the identities suggested for the figures are hypothetical. The arrangement of the figures seems to be inspired by the quest for symmetrical correspondence. A man and a woman, both accompanied by a child are seen sideways on; they are seated with their backs to each other, but turn their heads toward the viewer, their gazes fixed on the same point. Bareheaded, her legs covered by a yellow mantle, the woman hugs a child wrapped in a red shawl with white stripes.

The intensity of the colours in the group on the left is counterbalanced on the right by darker tones. Enveloped in a violet cloak and wearing a wide green hat adorned with a yellow ribbon, the man turns, his face less sullen than those of some of the other figures in the lunettes. The child is clinging to the man as if he wishes to attract his attention, with an expression of slight anxiety on his face.