Program Details

Michelangelo's Last Judgment:  Controversy and Devotion in the Pope’s Chapel - Boca Raton

Emily Fenichel
Video Catch-up

Course Description

Michelangelo unveiled the "Last Judgment" in 1541. Painted on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel, the towering fresco is an awesome achievement containing hundreds of figures confronting the Day of Judgment. It is also one of Michelangelo’s last major public works. Despite being created by one of the most famous artists in the world at the time, the reviews of the fresco were decidedly mixed. Some commentators felt that it was the most sublime work of art ever created, others thought it was fit only for a brothel. Even modern-day scholars point to the fresco as a pivotal moment in the history of Renaissance art. Together, we will consider the commission, context, creation, iconography, and aftermath of the painting in order to better understand what all the fuss is about. 

About the Instructor

  • Emily A. Fenichel is an Associate Professor of Art History at Florida Atlantic University who earned her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on the art of the Italian Renaissance, specifically the religious art of Michelangelo Buonarroti, on which she has published and lectured extensively. Her forthcoming book, Michelangelo’s Art of Devotion in the Age of Reform (Cambridge, 2023) considers the artist’s late religious works against the backdrop of Counter-Reformation Rome.