Tuesday, March 24, 2015



1475/81 Giovannino de' Dolci (d. about 1486) at the behest of Pope Sixtus IV Della Rovere (1471/84) from a design by Baccio Pontelli (about 1450/92)

M√ľntz thought that Dolci was the architect of the chapel, according to an act of payment of 1486 in favor of his son. The hypothesis was accepted by Steinmann, who spotted the portrait of Dolci, portrayed by Pietro Perugino in the group of onlookers to the Delivery of the Keys: the man on the far right holding the square. Then Dolci was considered the architect of the chapel by various scholars (Tolnay, Nogara, Pittaluga), although Lavagnino (1924) had noted that the documents do not qualify Dolci as 'architectus' and had indicated in Baccio Pontelli the likely author of the design of the chapel. It seems likely, as some believe (Tomei, Ettlinger, Redig De Campos, Salvini), that Dolci executed this work according to the design of another master. Redig De Campos (1965) recognized the portrait of Baccio Pontelli in the same group of bystanders of the Delivery of the Keys, the man with the compass in hand, facing Dolci, testimony of the two working together: Dolci, building the chapel, adapted Pontelli's design, taking care of the technical aspects” (Marcia Casini Wanrooij - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)

The dimensions are 40.5 x 13.2 m (133 x 43 feet), height is 20.7 m (68 feet)
Same dimensions of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem that was built in 966/973 BC and destroyed in 586 BC. The measurements are written in the Book of Kings of the Bible

A preexisting building was incorporated in the project which, according to some scholars, was maybe originally the seat of the leader of the Mithraic religion. It was mentioned for the first time by the sources in 1368 and it probably had a wooden ceiling

It was consecrated August 15, 1483 as S. Maria Assunta (Assumption of the Virgin Mary)

In the years 1566/68 it was reinforced with three buttresses by Pirro Ligorio (about 1513/83) and Giovanni Lippi aka Nanni di Baccio Bigio (about 1513/68) after various stabilization work following the opening of a wide crack in the northwest corner of the roof, caused by moisture

It has hosted the conclave 25 times in total

Conclaves have always been held here from 1878 onwards, when there was the election of Leo XIII Pecci (1878/1903)
All four conclaves of the nineteenth century were held in the Pauline Chapel of the Quirinal Palace built for Paul V Borghese (1605/21) with the same measures of the Sistine Chapel

The conclave of 1800 was exceptionally held in Venice, in the Basilica of S. Giorgio Maggiore, because of the revolutionary movements that had led to the birth of the Roman Republic
The electorate is composed of 120 cardinals and octogenarians are excluded

Currently the majority of the votes for the election of the pope must be equal to 2/3 rounded to the unity above when the number of voters is not divisible by three. From the 34° ballot onwards a run off will proceed, with a majority of half plus one of voters, among the two most voted cardinals in last ballot. They both lose, however, their right to vote

Smoke from the Sistine Chapel to announce the results of voting is now made white or black with special chemical additives mixed with the ballots, while in the past damp straw was used for the white smoke
The stove currently used to burn the documents and producing the smoke is the same as 1939
During the conclave of 1978 that would eventually end with the election of Pope John Paul I, it seems that the pipeline had some cracks in the stove and filled briefly the Sistine with black smoke

The floor dates to the end of 1400s in imitation of Opus Alexandrinum similar to cosmatesque floors, a style of geometric decorative inlay stonework typical of Medieval Italy, and especially of Rome and its surroundings

Barrier separating the Chapel in two and marble balustrade of the choir by Mino da Fiesole (1429/84), Andrea Bregno (1418/1503) and Giovanni Duknovich aka Giovanni Dalmata (about 1440/1510)

The barrier was used to separate the observers from the members of the Cappella Papalis, a sort of government of the papal state
It was chaired by the pope and it comprised about 200 lay and ecclesiastical dignitaries of high rank who met at least forty-two times a year attending religious services at least twenty-seven times a year
The barrier was moved in the mid-1500s of about 5 m (16 feet) toward the entrance due to the increase in the number of members of the Cappella Papalis

The restoration lasted 20 years (1979/1999) starting from the lunettes and ending with the paintings on the walls
The television company Nippon Television Network Corporation has been providing most of the funds for the restoration of Michelangelo’s paintings in the Chapel, totaling $ 4.2 million, in exchange for film rights

“Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one cannot even have an idea of what a man is able to achieve” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

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