You are here

Watch the 2014 Bill Kent Lecture on Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel.

Professor William Wallace, a world authority on Michelangelo, delivered this year's Bill Kent Lecture on Tuesday 9 December.

Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel…500 Years

William E. Wallace

Recently, we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the unveiling of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling.  If any work of art exemplifies artistic genius, it is this well-known masterpiece.  No matter how familiar the work, no matter the trials of that crowded space, few visitors have not felt awe standing under this titanic achievement.  Like a handful of timeless monuments – the pyramids, the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China among them – the Sistine never fails to astonish us. 

In many ways the ceiling is a compendium:  of Michelangelo's art, of the Renaissance, of Christian theology.  Like Verdi’s Requiem or Milton’s Paradise Lost, the ceiling is a transcendent work of genius that is never exhausted through looking or describing.  In the words of the great German writer, Johann Goethe:  "Until you have seen the Sistine Chapel, you can have no adequate conception of what man is capable of accomplishing."  Professor Wallace, a world authority on Michelangelo, will illuminate this masterpiece and help you see it with fresh eyes.


William E. Wallace, the Barbara Murphy Bryant Distinguished Professor of Art History at Washington University in St. Louis, is an internationally recognized authority on Michelangelo Buonarroti and his times.  His books include the award winning Michelangelo:  The Complete Sculpture, Painting and Architecture (1998), Michelangelo at San Lorenzo:  The Genius as Entrepreneur (Cambridge, 1994), Discovering Michelangelo (Rizzoli, 2012) and an acclaimed biography of the artist, Michelangelo:  The Artist, the Man and his Times (Cambridge 2010; paperback 2011).

This stimulating and engaging lecture is now able to be viewed at: