The Creation of Adam

Keywords: CreationAdam

Work Overview

The Creation of Adam
Italian: Creazione di Adamo
Artist Michelangelo
Year c. 1512
Type Fresco
Dimensions 280 cm × 570 cm (9 ft 2 in × 18 ft 8 in)

The Creation of Adam is a fresco painting by Michelangelo, which forms part of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling, painted c. 1508–1512. It illustrates the Biblical creation narrative from the Book of Genesis in which God breathes life into Adam, the first man. The fresco is part of a complex iconographic scheme and is chronologically the fourth in the series of panels depicting episodes from Genesis.

The image of the near-touching hands of God and Adam has become iconic of humanity. The painting has been reproduced in countless imitations and parodies. Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper and Michelangelo's Creation of Adam are the most replicated religious paintings of all time.

In 1505, Michelangelo was invited back to Rome by the newly elected Pope Julius II. He was commissioned to build the Pope's tomb, which was to include forty statues and be finished in five years.

Under the patronage of the Pope, Michelangelo experienced constant interruptions to his work on the tomb in order to accomplish numerous other tasks. Although Michelangelo worked on the tomb for 40 years, it was never finished to his satisfaction.[5] It is located in the Church of S. Pietro in Vincoli in Rome and is most famous for his central figure of Moses, completed in 1516.[6] Of the other statues intended for the tomb, two known as the Rebellious Slave and the Dying Slave, are now in the Louvre.[5]

During the same period, Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which took approximately four years to complete (1508–1512).[6] According to Condivi's account, Bramante, who was working on the building of St Peter's Basilica, resented Michelangelo's commission for the Pope's tomb and convinced the Pope to commission him in a medium with which he was unfamiliar, in order that he might fail at the task.[7]

Michelangelo was originally commissioned to paint the Twelve Apostles on the triangular pendentives that supported the ceiling, and cover the central part of the ceiling with ornament.[8] Michelangelo persuaded Pope Julius to give him a free hand and proposed a different and more complex scheme, representing the Creation, the Fall of Man, the Promise of Salvation through the prophets, and the genealogy of Christ. The work is part of a larger scheme of decoration within the chapel which represents much of the doctrine of the Catholic Church.[8]

The composition stretches over 500 square metres of ceiling,[9] and contains over 300 figures.[8] At its centre are nine episodes from the Book of Genesis, divided into three groups: God's Creation of the Earth; God's Creation of Humankind and their fall from God's grace; and lastly, the state of Humanity as represented by Noah and his family. On the pendentives supporting the ceiling are painted twelve men and women who prophesied the coming of Jesus; seven prophets of Israel and five Sibyls, prophetic women of the Classical world.[8] Among the most famous paintings on the ceiling are The Creation of Adam, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the Deluge, the Prophet Jeremiah and the Cumaean Sibyl.

God is depicted as an elderly white-bearded man wrapped in a swirling cloak while Adam, on the lower left, is completely nude. God's right arm is outstretched to impart the spark of life from his own finger into that of Adam, whose left arm is extended in a pose mirroring God's, a reminder that man is created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26). Another point is that Adam's finger and God's finger are not touching. It gives the impression that God, the giver of life, is reaching out to Adam who has yet to receive it; they are not on "the same level" as would be two humans shaking hands, for instance.

Many hypotheses have been formulated regarding the identity and meaning of the twelve figures around God. The person protected by God's left arm might be Eve due to the figure's feminine appearance and gaze towards Adam, but was also suggested to be Virgin Mary, Sophia goddess of wisdom, the personified human soul, or an angel of feminine build.[10]

The Creation of Adam is generally thought to depict the excerpt "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him" (Gen. 1:27). The inspiration for Michelangelo's treatment of the subject may come from a medieval hymn, "Veni Creator Spiritus", which asks the 'finger of the paternal right hand' (digitus paternae dexterae) to give the faithful speech.

Michelangelo's main source of inspiration for his Adam in his Creation of Adam may have been a cameo showing a nude Augustus Caesar riding sidesaddle on a Capricorn.[12] This cameo is now at Alnwick Castle, Northumberland.[13] The cameo used to belong to cardinal Domenico Grimani who lived in Rome while Michelangelo painted the ceiling. Evidence suggests that Michelangelo and Grimani were friends. Some scholars have been dissatisfied with the theory Michelangelo being mainly inspired by Lorenzo Ghiberti's Adam in his Creation of Adam. This cameo offers an alternative theory.

Several hypotheses have been put forward about the meaning of The Creation of Adam's highly original composition, many of them taking Michelangelo's well-documented expertise in human anatomy as their starting point. In 1990, an Anderson, Indiana physician, Frank Meshberger, noted in the Journal of the American Medical Association that the background figures and shapes portrayed behind the figure of God appeared to be an anatomically accurate picture of the human brain.[15] On close examination, borders in the painting correlate with major sulci of the cerebrum in the inner and outer surface of the brain, the brain stem, the frontal lobe, the basilar artery, the pituitary gland and the optic chiasm.[15][16]

Alternatively, it has been observed that the red cloth around God has the shape of a human uterus (one art historian has called it a "uterine mantle"[17]) and that the scarf hanging out, coloured green, could be a newly cut umbilical cord.[18] Recently a group of Italian researchers published on Mayo Clinic Proceedings an article where the images of the mantle and the postpartum uterus were overlapped.[19] According to Enrico Bruschini (2004), "This is an interesting hypothesis that presents the Creation scene as an idealised representation of the physical birth of man ("The Creation"). It explains the navel that appears on Adam, which is at first perplexing because he was created, not born of a woman."

The most famous section of the Sistine Chapel ceiling is Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam.  This scene is located next to the Creation of Eve, which is the panel at the center of the room, and the Congregation of the Waters, which is closer to the altar.

The Creation of Adam differs from typical Creation scenes painted up until that time.  Here, two figures dominate the scene: God on the right, and Adam on the left.  God is shown inside a floating nebulous form made up of  drapery and other figures.  The form is supported on angels who fly without wings, but whose flight is made clear by the drapery which whips out from underneath them. God is depicted as an elderly, yet muscular, man with grey hair and a long beard which react to the forward movement of flight.  This is a far cry from imperial images of God that had otherwise been created in the West dating back to the time of late antiquity.  Rather than wearing royal garments and depicted as an all-powerful ruler, he wears only a light tunic which leaves much of his arms and legs exposed.  One might say this is a much more intimate portrait of God because he is shown in a state that is not untouchable and remote from Man, but one which is accessible to him.

Unlike the figure of God, who is outstretched and aloft, Adam is depicted as a lounging figure who rather lackadaisically responds to God’s imminent touch.  This touch will not only give life to Adam, but will give life to all mankind.  It is, therefore, the birth of the human race.  Adam’s body forms a concave shape which echoes the form of God’s body, which is in a convex posture inside the nebulous, floating form.  This correspondence of one form to the other seems to underscore the larger idea of Man corresponding to God; that is, it seems to reflect the idea that Man has been created in the image and likeness of God – an idea with which Michelangelo had to have been familiar.

One of the questions that has been raised about this scene is the identity of the figures next to God.  Given her privileged placement under the arm of God, the female figure is presumably an important one.  Traditionally, she has been thought to be Eve, the future wife of Adam, who waits to the side until she is created out of Adam’s rib.  More recently, however, a theory has been floated that this is actually the Virgin Mary, who takes this place of honor next to God and the child next to her, who would therefore be the Christ Child.  This view is supported by the placement of God’s fingers on the child – the same fingers that the priest would use to raise the Eucharist during the Mass.  Since Catholic theology holds that the Eucharist is the Body of Christ, this theological understanding would be embodied in this painting.  If this latter interpretation is correct, the Creation of Adam would be intrinsically linked to the future coming of Christ, who comes to reconcile man after the sin of Adam.

In all, the painting shows several hallmarks of Michelangelo’s painting style: the lounging position of both Adam and God, the use of bodies which are both muscular and twisting, and the painting of figures who come across as works of sculpture. It is good to remember that Michelangelo was, after all, a sculptor.  Painting was not his primary area.

The Creation of Adam is one of the great jewels of Western art, though it and the rest of the Sistine Chapel ceiling suffered the ill effects of centuries of smoke that had caused the ceiling to darken considerably.  It was not until 1977 that the cleaning of the ceiling was begun.  The result of the cleaning was astonishing after its completion in 1989; what was once dark and drab became vivid.  The change from pre-cleaning to post-cleaning was so great that some initially refused to believe that this is the way Michelangelo actually painted.  Today, we have a much better understanding of Michelangelo’s palette and the world he painted, beautifully captured across the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Of all the marvelous images that crowd the immense complex of the Sistine Ceiling, The Creation of Adam is undoubtedly the one which has most deeply impressed posterity. No wonder, for here we are given a single overwhelming vision of the sublimity of God and the potential nobility of man unprecedented and unrivaled in the entire history of visual art. No longer standing upon earth with closed eyes and mantle, the Lord floats through the heavens, His mantle widespread and bursting with angelic forms, and His calm gaze accompanying and reinforcing the movement of His mighty arm. He extends His forefinger, about to touch that of Adam, who reclines on the barren coast of earth, barely able as yet to lift his hand. The divine form is convex, explosive, paternal; the human concave, receptive, and conspicuously impotent. The incipient, infecundating contact about to take place between the two index fingers has often been described as a spark or a current, a modern electrical metaphor doubtless foreign to the sixteenth century, but natural enough considering the river of life which seems about to flow into the waiting body. 

Genesis tells how the Lord created Adam from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. This story is never illustrated literally in Renaissance art. Usually, as in Jacopo della Quercia's beautiful relief on the facade of the church of San Petronio in Bologna, which must have impressed the young Michelangelo deeply, the Creator stands on earth and blesses the already formed body of Adam, read together with the ground, since his name in Hebrew means earth. Michelangelo's completely new image seems to symbolize a still further idea - the instillation of divine power in humanity, which took place at the Incarnation. Given Cardinal Vigerio's reiterated insistence on the doctrine of the two Adams, and the position of the scene immediately after the barrier to the sanctuary, at the spot where the Annunciation customarily appeared, and after Ezekiel with his vision of the Virgin Birth, this would seem natural enough. The scene recalls the famous verses from Isaiah, "Who hath believed our report ? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed ? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground . ..," invariably taken by theologians to foretell the Incarnation of Christ, shoot of Jesse's rod. Two striking visual elements make clear that this was one of the passages actually recommended to Michelangelo by his probable adviser, Cardinal Vigerio. First, the mighty right arm of the Lord is revealed, naked as in no other of His appearances on the Sistine Ceiling, nor anywhere else, as far as I have been able to determine, in all of Christian art prior to this time. (The left arm is clothed, at least to the elbow, by a white sleeve.) Second, directly under Adam, the arm of the veiled youth to the left above the Persian Sibyl projects into the scene - a matter that involved considerable advance planning - coming as close to touching Adam's thigh as the Creator does his finger. This hand holds a cornucopia bursting with Rovere leaves and acorns, appearing to grow from the dry ground, as full of potency as Adam ("ground") is empty of it. Such an image is characteristic not only of Michelangelo, who insofar as possible preferred to show male figures, including that of Christ, completely naked, but of the Roman High Renaissance and of Julius II himself, whose language as recorded by his astonished contemporaries overflows with boasts of his own physical strength and potency.

Description of The Creation of Adam
On the left hand side of this particular fresco, we see Adam reclining on his back with one arm on the ground and the other arm stretched out. On the right hand side of the fresco, God is surrounded by several figures and floats above the ground against a backdrop of a red robe. God extends his hand towards Adam's outstretched hand, and their fingers almost touch. Michelangelo painted this scene with vibrant colors and incredible detail. Michelangelo's background in sculpture is evident in the way that his figures are idealized muscular forms of the human body.

Spiritual Interpretation of The Creation of Adam
Obviously, this image is spiritual in nature because it represents the moment when God gives life to Adam in the Book of Genesis. But what are we supposed to make of the way Michelangelo displays each of these figures? Are God and Adam reaching towards one another, or are they letting go of one another? If they're reaching towards one another, then the image could represent the mutual desire of God and humanity for one another. If they're letting go of one another, Michelangelo could be asserting humanity's independence or separation from God.

Close up of hands
Let's look at Adam and God specifically. Adam looks almost relaxed the way he lounges on the ground. Michelangelo may have painted Adam in this rather passive stance to show that God hasn't actually given him life yet. In contrast to Adam's, well, lazy posture, God looks like a dynamic, active figure, as if he's hard at work at his greatest creation.

Now let's analyze all those figures who surround God. Maybe the figures are just meant to be angels, but maybe they represent specific biblical characters. The woman and the child on God's left are of special interest because God's left hand wraps around the woman and touches the child.

The woman might be Eve, who looks on and awaits her turn to be put on Earth with her husband. The woman may also be the Virgin Mary which could make the child on her left Jesus, whom the Bible refers to as the second Adam. If the child is Jesus, he may be looking away because he knows that Adam will soon sin, which will necessitate Jesus's future death in order to pay the price for that sin.

Michelangelo began painting The Creation of Adam, commencing the west half of the ceiling, in October 1511. After a fourteen-month break from painting, he had been able to see the first half of the ceiling from the ground and realized his method had to be slightly altered. Because the ceiling of the chapel is over sixty-five feet above the floor, the earlier figures were difficult to see. On this second half, the figures would become taller and the compositions would be less complex making them easier to see from the ground. Also, with his main ally, Pope Julius II, going in and out of failing health, Michelangelo knew that he would have to work faster to ensure that he would be able to finish the fresco. In fact, the entire scene of God creating Adam took less than three weeks to complete.
Starting with Adam, and working from left to right, Michelangelo created the scene of God giving life to Adam in manner unlike any that had been made before. In many depictions before, God and Adam are both placed on the ground. Genesis 2:7 says “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” and such, artists often showed God forming Adam as an artist would, or with a ray or breath going from God’s mouth to Adam’s nostrils. On the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Michelangelo showed something very different.

Adam, The First Man
On the ceiling, Adam is placed to the left, reclining on his right arm with his left arm outstretched reaching to the heavens. He is naked and muscular lying on the ground. A biographer and contemporary of Michelangelo, Vasari wrote of Adam “a figure whose beauty, pose, and contours are of such quality that that he seems newly created by his Supreme and First creator rather than by the brush and design of a mere mortal.” Indeed, there has been discussion by earlier religious philosophers that Adam would have had to be the ideal man, as St. Bonaventure wrote, “his body is most glorious, subtle, agile, and immortal.” Adam, being the first man, sits alone looking toward God as life begins.

Characteristic of the Renaissance and Michelangelo’s art as a whole, Adam is depicted with anatomical detail that had not been seen in art for centuries. Like his sculptures, the figure is shown not just as a representation of man, but as if the paint is a man alive. For Michelangelo, the goal was not just to show a scene from Genesis, but to breathe new life into the image and make it feel as if it is happening now.

The Creator, Lord God
To the right of Adam, a much more complicated scene of God is shown. While Adam is shown young and naked, God is shown in the, now common, image of an old man with a grey beard and clothed in a flowing robe. In this image, we see the divergence away from the past images of creation. God is flying through the sky carried by eleven young angels – their hair flowing as if being blown in the wind. Unlike Adam with his relaxed pose, the angels strain almost struggling to carry the weight of God and with him, the weight of the world. Not just being carried, God too takes on some of the burden supporting himself with his left arm around that of a woman, perhaps the not yet created on earth, Eve.

The Hands
The center of the panel is where the hands of Adam and God almost touch. Both figures reach to the other but in different ways. As Adam looks up to God, his quiet face shows little emotion. It is as if he looks on waiting for God’s touch, passive and patient. The same emotion can be seen in his hand. Adam’s hand is limp and relaxed. Even though reaching out, his fingers are still bent, waiting for life to straighten them and give them strength.

God, however, looks on to Adam with furled brows fighting both against the wind and struggling to reach his finest creation. Like Adam, God is muscular even in his old age. Even though he is wearing a robe, the fabric is pulled tight against his body showing the form of his shoulders and arms underneath. His hand, large like Adam’s, is reaching out to give life. His index finger is straight about to touch that of Adam’s.

Even with Michelangelo diverting from a literal depiction of the scene described in the Bible, his image is instantly recognizable as Adam receives God’s touch. And for Michelangelo, this panel, like the ceiling as a whole, helped to cement his reputation as one of the greatest artists, not just sculptors, in the world. 

An energetic, dynamic, flying God points his finger at Adam, who is struck with life. There is no visible spark, but Michelangelo did not need one to create this very strong image.

Adam is shown as a powerful youth, who in the center of the composition receives the breath of life.

The divine dynamism is depicted in God's blowing hair and beard. He is seated on a purple robe, surrounded by angels.

This well-known fresco is part of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, showing several other episodes from Genesis as well.

It portrays more than the artist's bold point of view – it is no wonder that the painting, even while placed next to the Creation of Eve and the Congregation of the Waters, still makes the most famous section of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

In Michelangelo's time, most painters created their art in one specific way. Creation scenes were a common subject, but the Creation of Adam broke the boundaries that were set in the field of art and went out of the ordinary.

Dominating the picture is a figure of God and a figure of Adam. Adam, located on the left side, is painted in a somewhat relaxed fashion.

His figure appears to be responding to the imminent touch of God – this is where the title comes in. Adam is receiving life directly from the source, and through the life given to him – he will, in turn, give life to all of humanity.

Description of the Painting

This picture, in a sense, depicts more than the creation of the first man, in fact, it shows the very start of what would later become the human race. Adam's figure is curved as he stretches out to God, taking one's mind to the idea that man is made in the likeness of God himself.

The way the two dominant figures relate and correspond to each other, one can almost see the closeness that Adam has with his creator. Michelangelo made the Creation of Adam in such a way that the figure of Adam echoes the figure of God, almost as if one is nothing but an extension of the other.

God's form, in turn, is stretched out to reach Adam. However, God appears to be in some suspended imperceptible shape that houses him and other angelic figures. The angels within Michelangelo's frame differ from the typical impression of angels in that they do not have wings.

These angels hold up the support that God is painted upon, and there appears to be some drapery whipping out in their background.

In this figure, God's form has been made clear, almost as if he were human. He is elderly, but even with his long grey hair and equally long beard, his body is masculine and somewhat youthful.

Compared to the imperial images of God that other artist had painted before, it is clear that Michelangelo took a bold step with this piece.

God has always been thought of as a majestic and all-powerful ruler of mankind. One would expect such a personality to be painted wearing royal garments and such, but Michelangelo reduces him to a simple old man in a simple light tunic with most of his limbs exposed.

This image puts a question in one's mind – what if this is the face of God? It is an intimate portrayal of his being. God is shown to be accessible, touchable, and close to his creation as his figure forms a convex shape to reach out to Adam.

Art is anything but clear, and much controversy has been raised about the angelic figures that are holding up the weight of the creator. They are wingless, so much doubt exists about their identity as angels. Directly under God's arm, there is a female figure. Traditional art critics identified this figure as Eve who was patiently waiting by God's side for her creation to be complete. She would later become Adam's wife. Some have identified her as the Virgin Mary who would later bear the Messiah – Christ. The later theory rose because of the child painted next to the female figure – itis debated that this might be Christ child who waits patiently by his father's side. This theory is fueled by the image of God's fingers which as lightly placed on the child's form. In this theory, the Creation of Adam becomes much more that a picture showing the start of mankind – the painting starts to show some connection between the start of the human race and the salvation of the human race that according to Christianity, was brought by the son God – Jesus Christ.

Being a sculptor, elements of Michelangelo's primary occupation are shown in this painting. The figures appear to be works of sculpting than they appear to be works of brush strokes.

The Sistine Chapel ceiling is a sort of summary of the book of Genesis. There is the Story of Noah, that of Adam and Eve, and there is general Story of Creation. The Creation of Adam stands out because the style it is painted in differs from the other frescos. For instance, the figures are more dominating. However, one thing remains unclear, what does this painting mean? It is one thing to analyse the contents and make obvious conclusions from the way the figures appear to the eye, but to truly decipher the deeper meaning of a painting is something different. Michelangelo's palette is very beautifully captured on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but this painter truly had a unique way of looking at the world. His inspiration came from the most extraordinary of places, and for the Creation of Adam, God only knows how and why he decided to create this masterpiece.

What is the Meaning?

The obvious meaning of this painting has everything to do with the creation of man and the start of the human race, but looking deeper, this painting is about the relationship that the creator has forged with his creation. By simply stretching out his arms, God creates Adam and points out the Christ child as Adam's saviour. Here, the creator is truly all knowing. He is about to bestow Adam with everything that he will need, but God has already seen the fall of man after temptation from the devil. He, therefore, anticipates this fall and presents a ready solution through Christ.

But there is still a big grey area in this picture – areAdam and God letting go of each other or are they reaching out to each other? The way their fingers are painted, it is hard to tell if God and man satisfy their mutual desire to co-exist or if the two are separating and man is going off to live an independent life. Observing the form of Adam, we see that he is relaxed. This could be interpreted to mean that although he is alive, he is still lifeless. He is, therefore, reaching out to God to receive that one component that separates man from every other beast that roams the fields. As for God, he looks rather focused. His figure appears active like he is hard at work to make his creation perfect. So it would, therefore, make sense to conclude that the figures are reaching out to each other in a union and they are not separating from each other.

Even geographers have interpreted this painting to be similar to two landmasses joined by a narrow strip but separated by a huge canal. Scientists have analysed the picture to symbolise the birth of mankind, drawing their hypothesis from the red backdrop which they interpreted to be a human uterine mantle with the green scarf symbolising an umbilical cord that has been recently cut.

All these interpretations, more or less, point to the same thing. But why did Michelangelo make the hands in that way? Why not make them meet? It is frustrating to think about it. This one detail is the entire reason this painting is famous. The space between the two fingers is a little under an inch, but this gap makes the entire picture worth a second and a third look. Even with the conclusions that have been made about the meaning of this painting, it is still very enigmatic. Looking closer, one is inclined to see what is not there – inclined to feel the force that seems to exist between the two fingers. It is like an electric charge, and as the picture sinks into the mind, there exists some realisation that makes an observer aware of the importance that the painting holds. This is the very start, one wrong move and humanity would have taken a completely different path. There is the concept of delicacy involved, and the way God is focused on the task at hand, one can almost tell that he aims only for perfection and nothing less.

It gets more interesting when one imagines the two fingers touching. Oh, what Adam must have felt like the touch of immortality made its way into his very soul. Michelangelo captures what the church has been trying to explain to its followers for centuries – he captured the divine spark of life. He captured the proof that God and man are nothing if not the perfect image of one another. Michelangelo, through the Creation of Adam, silently presents the past, the present, and the future of humanity in one frame.

One can say that this image was made at the very beginning of time, for what it shows is incredible. To the simple eye, it is simply a picture of two figures reaching out to each other, but look closer and that simple moment before the finger of God breathes life into the finger of Adam becomes the essence of everything we know and believe.

The painting glorifies God in a number of ways. The fact that he starts an entire race of people by a simple touch of a finger should be enough to establish his place as the all mighty, but Michelangelo takes it even further. God does not have to touch Adam for an observer to feel the power, the strength, and the life transferring from one finger, across the gap, and into the other finger. In its right, this painting deserves all the acknowledgement it gets.

There is another angle to this. For those who have seen the title of the painting and know the story of creation, it is easy to make conclusions, but for those that have never heard of Michelangelo or his work, it becomes a little difficult to know what the Creation of Adam is about. Looking at the painting from such a perspective, there is no spark between the fingers, there is no Christ child, and there is certainly nothing related to the birth of mankind. All there is to this painting are two figures inclined towards one another.
The delicate connection between the creator and creation only comes in after one understands what the painting is about, but there is one more issue. The power concept depicted here is not as a result of the picture at all. The fact that most people know the story behind this painting blinds them to the fact that these are simply two delicately reaching out to one another, both with a sense of yearning and restraint. Their fingers are stretched out to the point of touching, but their hands are stretched out in a void of nothingness, and frankly, those angels that are holding up the form of God appear to be failing at that task. Without influence from the story of creation, this painting becomes a show of love and friendship. It ceases to be about God's Creation of Adam and becomes about two people who simply want to connect with each other. This is the aspect of the picture that is both comforting and heartbreaking. It is hard to imagine a man without God, but imagining the relationship between the two personalities as strictly one sided is not all that comforting either.

Now back to the red backdrop located behind God's image. Some believe this backdrop to be a brain. This has led to the conclusion that God purposely kept intelligence from Adam. God withheld the knowledge of good and evil from his creation, and it was only after Adam had sinned that God came to allow him this knowledge. But if the analysis of this painting has taught us anything, it is that God did not just create man, he forged a relationship with man. Looking close at the painting, one can truly see the boldness by which it was created. Michelangelo's brushstrokes were sure and energetic – he left no space to chance. Books have been written, re-interpretations have been made, but the real beauty of the Creation of Adam is not that it will forever be a timeless masterpiece, it is that this piece relates to each and every single person on the face of this earth. It is the start of all of us, no matter the differences. This painting has been interpreted dozens of times, and yet it remains to be fully understood. There is something about looking at it that cannot be captured in words, no matter how poetic. Michelangelo, in those more than a hundred brushstrokes, painted life itself. He painted the source of life, the beginning of life, and by including the image of the Christ child, he painted everlasting life. He captures that moment before it all started, taking us back to the beginning of it all when the human race was just but vague imagination in the air. The incredible detail in this piece is delightful, and the way it fits in with all the other pieces to make up the whole ceiling is breathtaking.

It is outstanding how many painters have tried and failed to truly capture the moment of Adam's creation. Michelangelo captures the entire process, leaving nothing out. This fresco is as enduring as they get, and as he lays back on the earthly terrain, his physical strength is apparent to the eye of an observer. He is the perfect specimen of the ideal Greek or Roman male figure, but even with his elegance and undulating muscles, this creation is not complete. Adam still extends out to God, showing his dependency on the Creator. God sustains him, and although Adam appears complete, he still stretches out to meet the simple touch of God. The very image of God is the very image of Adam, and as they look into each other's eyes, there is an intense and beautiful connection between them. Adam looks at his creator with longing, and at this moment, Michelangelo captured everything that makes human beings what they are. The picture shows the threshold of creation as Adam stretches out to receive nourishment that will allow his physical form to survive. God stretches out to bestow upon his creation the spirit and the soul. By capturing this one moment, the creation of Adam's physical and spiritual self will forever be remembered by every generation.

The Creation of Adam is Michelangelo’s fresco painted c.1508-1512 and forms part of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling. The painting is based on the biblical story of creation which depicts God breathing life into Adam, the first man created, in the Book of Genesis. It’s the fourth in the series of a complex iconographic scheme portraying episodes from Genesis.

The painting portrays a completely nude Adam on the lower left, and God as a white-bearded elderly man dressed in a swirling veil. God’s right arm is outstretched to almost be in touch Adam’s left hand, signifying the spark of life being passed to humanity. Both God’s and Adam’s fingers are not in contact, which signifies the gap that exist between them, and that they are not on the same level, as would be with two people shaking hands. The man’s image appears a mirror reflection of God, which symbolises God creating man in his own image and likeness.

There are many hypothesis regarding the significance of the figures around God, and most notably, on his left arm. The figure takes the form of a woman, which could portray Eve, due to the manner in which she gazes at Adam, although there are suggestions that Michelangelo might have had Sophia the goddess of wisdom, Virgin Mary, a female angel, or a human soul which is personified, in mind.

Pope Julius II invited Michelangelo back to Rome in 2950. He was mandated with building the Pope’s tomb, which was expected to be complete within five years, with the inclusion of forty statues. There were numerous interruptions in his work which hindered him from completing the tomb to his satisfaction, despite working on it for 40 years.

The tomb is located in the Church of S.Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, and it’s made famous by the 1516 central figure of Moses. The Dying Captive and the Heroic Captive were statues intended for the tomb but were transferred to Louvre.

The Sistine Chapel ceiling painting done by Michelangelo during the same period took about four years to complete, from 1508 to 1512. Bramante, who was working on St Peter’s Basilica, according to Condivis account, was not pleased with the commissioning of Michelangelo by the Pope to work on the Pope’s tomb. This compelled him to convince the Pope to delegate some unfamiliar task to him with the intention that Michelangelo would fail at the new task.

The Pope had initially commissioned Michelangelo to paint the “Twelve Disciples” on the ceiling’s triangular pendentives supports, and have ornaments cover the central part. He, however, persuaded Pope Julius to offer him a task of a more complex scheme which represented, creation, the fall of man, prophet’s salvation, and Christ’s genealogy. The work represents the larger scheme of decoration which is symbolic to the Catholic Church’s doctrine.

The composition carries more than 300 images and stretches over 500 square metres on the ceiling. God’s creation of the Earth, God’s creation of mankind and the fall from God’s grace and Noah and his family’s representation of humanity, are the three divisions at the centre of the composition, based on nine episodes from the Book of Genesis.

The ceiling is supported by twelve pendentives with paintings of men and women, five Sibyls Classical world’s prophetic women and seven prophets of Israel, who prophesied the coming of Jesus. The creation of Adam, The Deluge, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the Cumaean Sibyl, and the Prophet Jeremiah are the most significant paintings on the ceiling. Cameo portraying a nude Augustus Caesar riding on a Capricorn could be credited to Michelangelo’s main inspiration for the subject, Adam, on his painting, Creation of Adam.

The Creation of Adam fresco is one of the better known elements of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

This artwork has featured all across the international media ever since it was completed and is the most recognisable fresco produced by Michelangelo.

The symbolic references found in this artwork show God giving life into Man, as represented by Adam. This is clearly a key topic within Christianity and deserved it's prominent position within the overall collection of frescos on the ceiling.

Adam and Eve were frequently represented together in Renaissance art around the time of artist Michelangelo, but this was an artist who always looked to tackle topics and themes differently to other artists, as also seen by his David sculpture, for example.

Creation of Adam is a famous fresco painting by Italian painter Michelangelo and this website is devoted to this influential and highly respected religious art work.

You can find images of the Creation of Adam Michelangelo painting below, including a detailed version of the main focus of the work. There is also some discussion of the Creation of Eve accompanying art work which was also created by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel as a fresco. Those interested can also find Michelangelo paintings here.

Michelangelo was a highly influential member of the Italian Renaissance art work who was skilled in many different fields in a similar way to fellow creative figure, Leonardo da Vinci. During the Renaissance period Michelangelo was seen as one of the best choices for high paying commissions and this led to his extensive work in the Sistine Chapel where he would decorate it's ceiling to incredible detail.

The work was completed within the 16th century. Creation of Adam is just one part of this huge fresco but it is regarded as one of the most important and artistically impressive parts of the whole work.

Creation of Adam is a famous religious moment in the teachings of Christianity which remains strong within Italy.

The painting captures the scene of God breathing life into Adam who was to become the first man and was later joined together with Eve who helped to start off the human race as we know it. Adam and Eve have been featured in endless paintings with a high frequency coming during these Renaissance periods when religion was even more influential within society.

The connection in this painting between the fingers of Adam and God, which symbolises the spark of life being created, is very popular in it's own right for some who actually prefer this cropped version of the larger work and often buy it as an art print reproduction to add to their own home, or alternatively as a poster or stretched canvas.

The panel to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel which includes this work came towards the end of the overall installation of the completed art work.

Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel is amongst the biggest tourist attractions within Italy and has been for many years, with regular work being completed in order to ensure that the extraordinary fresco does not become damaged over time, having already covered the past 500 years.

Few art installations have been around as long as this, and given as much inspiration to so many which is why it continues to attract respect and appreciation from art academics and the public in equal measures.

All of the Creation of Adam images within this website are accompanied by links which will take you straight through to our recommended gallery that hosts a great collection of giclee art prints, posters and stretched canvases of Michelangelo's works with many different versions of the Creation of Adam fresco ready to buy.

We use ourselves and are more than happy to recommend them to you, particularly as they have such a wide selection of Creation of Adam prints available and they also give a great service too.

Michelangelo created four panels within the Sistine Chapel, depicting episodes from the Christian book of Genesis and these extracts are still very well known within the continuing population of Christians who remains great in number across Europe and in large parts of most other continents as well.

Italian art in general has become seen as spearheading all of Europe during the Renaissance periods and the developments in art which happened here were crucial in moving towards all the contemporary movements which we enjoy today.

The Creation of Adam has become an iconic image which almost everyone recognises, without necessarily knowing who the original artist was or what the actual meaning of the piece was.

It can quite reasonably claim to be as well known as other significant paintings and frescos such as Da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Michelangelo also created the David sculpture when demonstrating a similarly impressive spread of skills to match fellow-artist Leonardo da Vinci.

Creation of Adam prints are regularly purchased right across the world today thanks to the spread of popularity in Italian art from the 15th and 16th centuries where it played a crucial role in bringing in new ideas and techniques to European art that breathed new life into otherwise relatively stale art that existed around the Middle Ages.

It is particularly in American and Christian countries across Europe which celebrate the beauty of the Creation of Adam fresco.

We hope that you appreciate and we hope to develop this website over the coming years, with more information on the fresco itself, the Sistine Chapel as well as the artist Michelangelo.

We also want to translate the site into different languages as it expands to, to help reflect the true international audience which surrounds this extraordinary piece of 16th century Italian art work.