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

Drunkenness of Noah (with ignudi and medallions)

Cappella Sistina, Vatican

The ninth (and last) scene in the chronological order of the narrative, The Drunkenness of Noah, is depicted in the centre of the vault of the first bay, between two pairs of ignudi with medallions.

The Drunkenness of Noah is an episode that from the time of St Augustine onward was interpreted as the prefiguration of the mocking of Christ. The humiliation of the patriarch, caused by the fruit of the vine, alludes to the Word that humiliates itself by agreeing to become incarnated in the "vineyard" of Israel.

The four ignudi are the first figures of that kind in the Chapel. Only the head, a shoulder, and the feet are now visible of one of the two ignudi on the north side. The rest of the body was destroyed by the detachment of intonaco caused by the explosion of the powder magazine at Castel Sant'Angelo in 1797. A sixteenth century engraving shows that the figure was a mirror image of the one facing it, and it is likely that it was executed using the same cartoon reversed. The modeling of the ignudi in the first bay contains passages of chiaroscuro displaying greatest contrast than those in the following bays. This lends them an air of hardness.

The figures of ignudi bear garlands of oak leaves and acorns - allusions to the Della Rovere family - and ribbons passing through the frames of the large gilded medallions. In them are represented scenes of Bidkar Throwing the Body of the Deposed King Joram from his Chariot in Naboth's Vineyard, and the Murder of Abner.

In the medallions, the Destruction of the Statue of the God Baal and the Killing of Uriah are depicted.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.