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Michelangelo’s Last Judgment—uncensored

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The Artstor Blog

Some of the more controversial nudity in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment was painted over the year after the artist’s death. Those additions were left intact when the Last Judgment was restored in the 1990s, but thanks to a farsighted cardinal we can see what the fresco looked like before it was censored.

Left: Michelangelo Buonarroti | Last Judgment | 1534-41 | Sistine Chapel, Vatican. Right: Marcello Venusti | Last Judgment | Museo e gallerie nazionali di Capodimonte | Images and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. Left: Michelangelo Buonarroti | Last Judgment | 1534-41 | Sistine Chapel, Vatican. Right: Marcello Venusti | Last Judgment | Museo e gallerie nazionali di Capodimonte | Images and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

The Last Judgment was commissioned for the Sistine Chapel by Pope Clement VII just a few days before his death. Michelangelo hadn’t even finished the fresco before controversy erupted over its unclothed figures.

Not long after the painting’s completion, the Council of Trent condemned nudity in religious art, decreeing that “all lasciviousness be avoided; in such wise that figures shall not be painted or…

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