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

Last Judgment

Cappella Sistina, Vatican

Earlier representations of the Last Judgment had shown Christ the Judge as he appeared in the description of St Matthew: " seated on his throne in glory", with the apostles beside him sitting "on the thrones of the twelve tribes of Israel". Michelangelo's Christ scandalised contemporary viewers because he is neither seated, nor has he a beard.

Christ the Judge in the Last Judgment by no means has the familiar features of Christ. But for the wounds in his side, hands, and feet, the figure would revel nothing of its identity, for Jesus here appears without beard and with unheard of muscular strength. He is unrecognisable, since he bears little resemblance to his traditional iconic depiction. In his unblemished youthful beauty, he incarnates the ideals of a traditional belief that sees the beautiful body as a reflection of divine perfection.