Sacrifice of Noah is the seventh of the nine scenes from Genesis. The painting depicts Noah, his wife and others celebrating a sacrifice of a ram.
There is a pair Ignudi extending their arms toward the centre to grip the ribbon holding up the medallion.
Young men are also seen dragging the animal. Domenico Carnevali repainted the figures of these youth in 1568 after the original forms were lost.
Other scenes from the Book of Genesis
The intricate composition of the Book of Genesis consists of several figures, some nude. They showcase the artist’s finesse in painting a variety of forms in different poses. Five of the paintings are of creation stories.
The drunkenness of Noah is closest to the chapel door, and separation of light from darkness is on the far opposite, nearest to the altar.
- The separation of light and darkness: The Lord’s arms are raised as he launches himself into the heavens. The medallion holding ignudi pose differently from each other; it is clear that Michelangelo did not attempt to create symmetry.
- The creation of the sun, moon and plants: The form of the creator appears twice in a scene that is unbalanced. On the right, he stretches his arms to give shape to the sun and moon and on the left side as he commands grass and bushes from the earth.
- The separation of land and water: The Lord soars above the expansive waters along with an entourage of angels. The sky behind him is clear while the other side is grayish-white. The Ignudi posture is more dynamic and the medallions are plain.
- The creation of Adam: This is an emotional painting of the creator and Adam reaching out to each other. The expressionless youthful face of Adam stands out against the mature one of the Lord who is depicted with grey hair and a long beard.
- The creation of Eve: Responding to God’s motion, Eve arises from the rocks at the back of Adam rather than from his rib. She extends her joint hands to the Lord.
- The Temptation and expulsion: The painting depicts the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise and the tree of knowledge with the tempter at the centre.
- The flood: People are engaged in a fierce fight, a boat is about to capsize.
- Drunkenness of Noah: The head of a drunken Noah is seen with his eyes shut. Also in the composition are his sons Ham, Shem and Japheth.
The Ignudi are 20 nude male forms which Michelangelo painted at corners of the five smaller creation scenes. Many pontiffs were outraged because the figures were not essential in telling the story of creation. Many speculated about the meaning of the Ignudi.
They show his love of the human form, specifically the male body. This could also be understood in the context of the classical outlook of the Greek that used the man as a measure of everything.
These figures are at the top most part of the chapel walls. It is unknown whether another artist painted them before Michelangelo began his composition or if they were part of Michelangelo’s works.
What is known for sure is that Michelangelo painted Christ’s ancestors as explained in the Gospel of Saint Matthew.
The Sacrifice of Noah is an impressive painting that remains relevant today. Michelangelo put a lot of effort in its creation and when coming up with other paintings to tell the story of creation. This piece has certainly contributed in making the ceiling of Sistine the masterpiece that it is.