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

Josiah - Jechoniah - Shealtiel

Fresco, 215 x 430 cm
Cappella Sistina, Vatican

"Amon begat Josiah. Josiah begat Jechoniah and his brothers around the time they were carried away to Babylon. And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechoniah begat Shealtiel and Shealtiel begat Zerubbabel." (Matthew 1:10-12)

Josiah, the son of Amon, is usually considered to be the man depicted on the right, and Jechoniah the child that he holds on his knees, while, on the opposite side, the child's mother is believed to be holding in her arms another of the sons begotten by Josiah during the Babylonian Captivity. In this case, the family of Jechoniah with Shealtiel as a child is thought to be represented in the spandrel above.

The lunette with the tablet bearing the names of Hezekiah-Manasseh-Amon, who, in the chronological order of the ancestors of Christ, come immediately before Josiah, is next to this one on the same wall, instead of on the opposite wall, as it should have been according to the distributive pattern adopted by Michelangelo for the whole cycle. The interruption of this pattern, which was subsequently followed regularly, was probably intended to draw attention to the period of exile inBabylon.

For the first time, the artist established a clearly dramatic rapport between the figures in the two groups in the same lunette. In particular, this was assigned to the postures of the two children leaning eagerly toward each other with outstretched arms: the one on his father's lap holds a small object that is no longer recognizable, while the other seems to be trying to grasp it. The man suddenly turns his head with a vigorous mien that is difficult to interpret - possibly he is surprised, as his open left hand would seem to indicate - while the woman suddenly draws back, clasping her son more tightly as if to protect him better, with an expression of great alarm on her face. And, once again, the brighter colours of the woman's figure - a deep rose dress with a green scarf round her waist, a white shirt and a yellow ocher mantle - are in marked contrast with the dominant darker tones of the green cloak with violet shadows that envelops the man.