Tuesday, July 7, 2020
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The Flood | History Now

Noah was in his 600th year after, in its next month,’the windows of heaven were opened and rain dropped for 40 times and 40 nighttime’. According to the Old Testament Book of Genesis, God, reflecting on man’s wickedness,’regretted ever created him. He resolved to ruin everything and everybody else the righteous Noah, who led an exemplary life. God told him to build an ark and entered into a covenant with him’

Noah, his wife and his sons accumulated’every beast after its kind’, female and male’of flesh’, and they entered the ark two by two. Each of the additional’flesh that moved on the ground’ and all humankind perished in the deluge.

Michelangelo’s depiction of the Flood, marked with its generally sculptural renderings of individual type, is the eighth of nine scenes in Genesis commissioned in 1508 by Pope Julius II for the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. The fresco is composed of four distinct dramas. In the foreground, nude, dire characters ascend a windswept mountain because they flee the rising seas in vain expectation of security. Many are clutching not only clothing but the national things of an everyday lifestyle gone for good: stools, baskets, bread, even just a skillet.

Fixing them a ship capsizes as people inside it fend off people trying to scramble aboard in their battle to survive. Others have taken refuge on a bare rock, where a father carries his dying or dead son, a flimsy covering their sole protection against the ravages of this storm. The father and son are the only figures known definitively to be by Michelangelo’s hand instead of those of the supporters.

At the space is the ark, in which, by its own right, Noah, dressed in a scarlet robe, reaches to point to the skies searching for some indication that the suffering will soon be at a stop.

What’s most striking about Michelangelo’s accounts of the Flood is the way the conventional focus of this ark narrative, which of Noah and the animals, is pushed into the background. All eyes are on the bulk of humankind and their pitiless trial. It’s as if the great Renaissance artist, buoyed by the new ideas of Humanism, is holding God to account for his activities. What exactly did his patron, Julius, think?

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