You don’t need to travel to Vatican City to view Michelangelo’s frescoes.
In November, Fordham University was gifted the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s reproduction of the Sistine Chapel ceiling fresco from their ‘Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer’ exhibition.
The digital reproduction of Il Divino’s High Renaissance-era masterpiece currently resides inside Duane Library’s Butler Commons at the university’s Rose Hill Campus.
According to Maria Ruvoldt, Fordham University Art History associate professor and chairwoman, the quarter-scale reproduction is displayed on a flat surface in contrast to the original which embraced a curved (barrel vault) surface.
She added that the reproduction is a digital photograph of the Sistine Chapel’s iconic ceiling printed on fabric and displayed in an illuminated plexiglass frame.
Vincent Burke, Fordham University Capital Programs and Planning director, said the replica measures approximately 16’ 4” wide and 41’ long.
Painted between 1508 to 1512, the fresco residing in the Sistine Chapel measures approximately 131 feet long by 43 feet wide.
The reproduction was produced for the Met’s ‘Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer’ exhibit which ran from November 13, 2017 to February, 12, 2018.
It was created in house by the Met’s exhibition design department.
“The Creation of Adam is perhaps one of the most recognizable images in the history of art often reduced to the interaction of the hands of God and Adam, this is only a fraction of the complex decoration,” explained Ruvoldt.
Like the original, its replica depicts several stories from the Book of Genesis from the separation of light and dark to the story of Noah, images of the Old Testament prophets and the ancient world’s sibyls, the ancestors of Christ and four narrative scenes from the Old Testament including Judith and Holofernes, David and Goliath, the Punishment of Haman and the Brazen Serpent.
The acquisition of the piece began when Fr. Joseph McShane, Fordham University president, was touring the exhibit and he remarked, “What I wouldn’t do to get this to Fordham!”
To his and Fordham’s luck, Erin Pick, the Met’s then senior administrator, said the institution would look into his request since once the show ended, the Met would dispose of the piece.
The university was informed a few weeks later that the Met approved its proposal.
Fordham University was only required to cover the cost of its removal and transportation.
McShane said the fresco’s installation was completed in ten days and it has since been met with great enthusiasm by faculty.
He said the university will introduce students to the breathtaking fresco during a prestigious ribbon-cutting ceremony slated for late January.
“When you’re at the Sistine Chapel, they rush you to see the fresco, but here at the university you can spend time appreciating every detail of it,” expressed McShane.
The larger-than-life gift is the latest collaboration between the two institutions.
In 2017, Fordham lent the Met Cristóbal de Villalpando’s ‘Adoration of the Magi’ which the museum restored and included in its July exhibition, ‘Cristóbal de Villalpando: Mexican Painter of the Baroque.’