"Your commission is to decorate the ceiling." And of course, Michelangelo's response was, "What are you, kidding me? I'm not a painter!"
The original commission was to paint the 12 apostles, but Michelangelo turned it down because his craft was sculpture, not painting. But with a little compromise, he would ultimately do it with a few changes to the composition. Instead of the 12 figures, there would be over 300, and they would be from stories in the Old and New Testaments. From 1508-1512, Michelangelo stood on scaffolding painting the frescos - from the Creation of Adam to the Flood, and other stories from the Bible. Upon seeing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and the Last Judgment painting on the wall behind the altar, one almost forgets to look at the other frescos along the side walls painted by Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Perugino, and Roselli.
Another of Michelangelo's greatest masterpieces was carved out of an old abandoned block of marble. His statue of David prooved there was no block of stone that Michelangelo could not carve into a masterpiece. The sculpture stands about 17 feet, and is located at the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence. The statue originally stood outside the Pallazzo della Signoria, and today a replica stands in its place.
Other masterpieces of Michelangelo include the Pieta statue in St. Peter's Basillica in Vatican City, and the architecture of St. Peter's dome, originally designed by Michelangelo. Though the artist did not live to see its completion in 1590, it remains a powerful symbol of the Vatican, and also a powerful symbol of the hand of Michelangelo.
"Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish." ~Michelangelo