Michelangelo's Last Judgment is located on the wall behind the altar in the Sistine Chapel. His portrayal of the Second Coming of Christ in "The Last Judgment" generated immediate controversy from the Counter-Reformation Catholic church.
Michelangelo was to paint the end of time, the beginning of eternity, when the mortal becomes immortal, when the elect join Christ in his heavenly kingdom and the damned are thrown into the endless torments of hell.
No artist in 16th-century Italy was better positioned for this task than Michelangelo, whose final work sealed his reputation as the greatest master of the human figure, especially the male nude. Pope Paul III was well aware of this when he accused Michelangelo of repainting the altar wall of the chapel with the Last Judgment. With its focus on the resurrection of the body, this was the perfect subject for Michelangelo.
The powerful composition focuses on the dominant figure of Christ, captured in the moment before the verdict of the Last Judgment is pronounced (Matthew 25: 31-46).
His calm and commanding gesture seems to attract attention and calm the surrounding agitation. A wide slow rotary movement begins in which all the figures take part. The two upper lunettes with groups of angels carrying the symbols of the Passion in flight are excluded (on the left the Cross, the nails and the crown of thorns; on the right the column of the flagellation, the stairs and the spear with the sponge soaked in vinegar).
In the center of the lower section are the angels of the Apocalypse who are awakening the dead with the sound of long trumpets. On the left the resurrected recover their bodies as they ascend towards heaven (Resurrection of the flesh), on the right angels and demons fight to make the damned fall to hell. Finally, in the background Charon with his oars, along with his demons, makes the damned get out of his boat to lead them before the infernal judge Minos, whose body is wrapped in the coils of the serpent.
The reference in this part to the Inferno from Dante Alighieri's Divina Commedia is clear. In addition to praise, the Last Judgment also provoked violent reactions among contemporaries. For example, the Master of Ceremonies Biagio da Cesena said that "it was most dishonest in such an honorable place to have painted so many nude figures that so dishonestly show their shame and that it was not a work for a Pope's Chapel but for stoves and taverns." "(G. Vasari, Le Vite). The controversies, which continued for years, led in 1564 to the decision of the Congregation of the Council of Trent to have covered some of the figures of the Judgment that were considered "obscene".
The task of painting the deck curtains, the so-called "braghe" (trousers) was entrusted to Daniele da Volterra, since then known as the "braghettone". Daniele's "braghe" were only the first to be made. In fact, several more were added in the centuries to come.