The painting of Prophet Joel is one of the paintings of the seven prophets of the Old Testament that Michelangelo painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The painting was completed in 1512 and remains in good condition. It is bigger than life size, around 4500 by 1400 cms. It is part of a series of paintings of seven prophets, who are all shown as interacting with each other.
It is also a very small part of a larger religious theme in the Roman Catholic tradition. Over the time he worked on this project, the artist painted many frescoes with religious motifs that depicted the doctrine of the Catholic Church.
Prophet Joel was the second of the twelve Minor Prophets and is believed to have written the Book of Joel. Not much is known about him but he is considered to be associated with the Second Temple. He is given more importance in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, but Roman Catholicism also honours him as a saint.
The painting depicts Joel in a sitting position. He is dressed in a white robe with a red shawl. What strikes us most about the painting is the scroll he is holding in his hands because of the intense concentration Joel is giving to the written word. Behind his seat, two young boys are debating fiercely.
Both of them are holding a book in their hands. The expression of Prophet Joel in this painting is also quite striking. He shows not just intense concentration but also a level of disdain and knowledge. The depiction of an inner thought process going on furiously is aptly shown through the expression.
An excellent example of the religious paintings of Michelangelo, who was a devoted Catholic, Prophet Joel clearly shows his skill with symbolism and form. This wonder can still be seen at the Vatican Museum, where it has been preserved well over the decades.
Michelangelo was an Italian Renaissance painter and sculptor. He is considered to be the quintessential Renaissance artist and has done prolific work on paintings and other forms of art.
He achieved fame and popularity during his lifetime and was courted by royal courts, the nobility, and the Catholic Church. His nickname was Il Divino or "the divine one", referring to the grandeur of his work. Even today, Michelangelo continues to inspire and awe.
Born in 1475, Michelangelo was from a well-to-do aristocratic family of bankers. He grew up in Florence, which was the art centre of Europe at the time. But he also spent time in a small town called Settignano, where he lived with his nanny and her stone cutter husband. He acquired his love for marble and sculpting during this time. Being in Florence gave the budding artist plenty of opportunities to try out his talents. He was apprenticed to Domenico Ghirlandaio, who even paid him.