The lunettes form the highest part of the walls of the chapel; they are situated above the upper cornice, below which are the figures of popes frescoed at the time of Sixtus IV. Their vast semicircular surfaces (about 6,5 by 3,4 meters) are interrupted at the centre bottom by the crowns of the window arches and are delimited at the sides by the curves of the pendentives linking the walls to the vault, of which the triangular spandrels form part.
It is not known whether they had been decorated before Michelangelo painted the chapel - and, if so, how - since no information in this respect may be gleaned from the watercolour drawing by Pier Matteo d'Amelia showing the original decoration of the vault with a starry sky.
In the lunettes (and in the eight smaller triangular spandrels), Michelangelo painted the figures of the Ancestors of Christ according to the sequence of forty generations listed at the beginning of the Gospel of Saint Matthew.
The Ancestors of Christ in the Lunettes
Cappella Sistina, Vatican
|Summary of works by Michelangelo|
|Sculptures | Paintings | Sistine Chapel | Drawings | Architecture|
|-1501 | 1502- | David | Julius II's Tomb | Medici Tomb | Pietŕs|
|Easel paintings | Frescoes in Pauline Chapel|
|Division of the ceiling | Genesis | Prophets | Sibyls | Ignudi|
|Spandrels | Lunettes | Triangles | Medallions|
|until 1530 | after 1530|