365 Days of Art: August 18 – Pope Falls Ill; Michelangelo Fears Sistine Ceiling Won’t Be Finished
August 18, 1511
Michelangelo, halfway through painting the Sistine ceiling, fears for the future of his project when Pope Julius II, at age 67, comes down with a severe fever. It’s severe enough at his age that everyone assumes he’ll die. In an unstable time, with enemies circling, his strong personality and sheer force of will have basically held order for quite some time. Faced with the seemingly certain loss of this order, things disintegrate: his own servants loot his home, and rebels enter Rome.
Because Julius is the benefactor of the Sistine ceiling, Michelangelo is sure that a new Pope won’t feel obliged to continue to Julius’s pet project, but will take over with his own agenda.
Luckily for all of us, Julius stubbornly recovers and lives for another two years. The ceiling project continues.