The Sistine Chapel was built, and the decoration of the walls complete, by 1483. But it was Michelangelo's ceiling frescos, painted a quarter century later, that brought true immortality.
Commissioned by the Pope in 1508 to decorate the chapel, Michelangelo used a network of scaffolding to reach the high vaulted ceilings. He divided the ceiling into nine panels, each showing a scene from Genesis.
Contrary to legend, although he did do much of the work himself, Michelangelo also had assistants to help with the paintings. Scholarly evidence suggests, too, that he painted mostly while standing. Nevertheless, it was an arduous task, and remains a compelling story.
The Chapel Ceiling has been cleaned, and the frescos restored to their original brilliance.