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World-Renowned Expert on Michelangelo Will Discuss Sistine Chapel Ceiling at the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences

By UM News

World-Renowned Expert on Michelangelo Will Discuss Sistine Chapel Ceiling at the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences

By UM News
Center for the Humanities Stanford Distinguished Professor Lecture with Dr. William Wallace to Take Place on Thursday, April 9

In 1508, Michelangelo di Lodovico di Buonarotti Simoni was called to Rome to undertake the painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. At the time, he was a noted sculptor, with very limited previous experience painting frescoes.

William Wallace – the Barbara Murphy Bryan Distinguished Professor of Art History at Washington University in St. Louis and a world-renowned expert on the artist and his times – will discuss this project at the University of Miami (UM) on Thursday, April 9.


Wallace will speak at 7:00 p.m. at Storer Auditorium, through the Henry King Stanford Distinguished Professors Lecture Series, sponsored by the UM College of Arts & Sciences Center for the Humanities.

“It is really stunning that Michelangelo, who had never painted a fresco on his own and especially not on that scale or degree of difficulty, created one of the greatest masterpieces of all time,” Wallace said. “We have, however, a romanticized view of Renaissance artists; they were craftsmen and employees, and if the pope decides that he wants a decorated ceiling, you perhaps complain a little, but then you buckle down and do what the pope requests.”

Wallace’s extraordinary insights and expertise have grown over a career studying Michelangelo intensively, where Wallace has sought to place the artist “in his right familial and social context.”

He has written about the original “Renaissance Man” for more than 30 years, with his first book, Michelangelo at San Lorenzo: The Genius as Entrepreneur. published in 1994. He has since authored five more books on Michelangelo, including his 2010 biography Michelangelo: The Artist, the Man and his Times, widely regarded as the authoritative book about Michelangelo. It examines his relationships with more than 1,000 other people with whom he corresponded.

Center for the Humanities Director and Professor of English Mihoko Suzuki said, “Professor Wallace’s work importantly shows that Michelangelo, the Renaissance artist par excellence, was deeply embedded in his social and economic circumstances as well as the historical culture of his time,” adding that it corrects impressions of “great artists as solitary geniuses who stand apart from society.”

This year Wallace is visiting senior scholar at Villa I Tatti, Harvard University’s Center for Renaissance Studies in Florence, as well as a fellow of the American Academy in Rome.

Suzuki said his lecture will open the audience’s eyes to the richness of visual art. “While visual culture may be more immediately accessible than verbal discourse, it is also capable of carrying complex meanings that reward sustained study and analysis. Learning to understand and interpret visual culture opens up the possibility of seeing, in very concrete terms, the world in a new way. Such an ability affords us material access to human experiences in different historical periods and cultures.”

The lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please visit for more information and to sign up. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

April 01, 2015