Michelangelo Buonarroti 1475 – 1564

The Martyrdom of St Peter

fresco (625 × 662 cm) — 1546-50 Museum Cappella Paolina, Vatican City

Michelangelo Buonarroti biography

This work is linked to 2 Peter 1:14

Tags: Peter

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Tradition had it that St Peter was captured and crucified head-down in Rome during the reign of Nero, between 64 and 67. The event is not described in the Bible.

Despite his painful position, Peter shows great will-power. The women in the foreground are trembling with fear. The Romans in the background seem to be having an argument. One of them asks for silence.

The fresco has a nice composition. Peter draws all attention, being in the center and in a lighter spot. Some of the figures are out of proportion, like the women in the foreground.

Fifty years after Michelangelo completed his fresco, Caravaggio used Michelangelo's Peter for his version of the event.

This is the second of two large frescoes Michelangelo made in Paul's Chapel (Cappella Paolina) in the Vatican. The other one shows The Conversion of Saul. The chapel was built as a private chapel for pope Paul III.

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