Employment and Migration Blog

Tag: sistine chapel

  • Sistine Chapel...Part 2
    Posted by Stephen Booth on 11 Mar 2013
    In my last post, I reported on a visit to the Sistine Chapel, and focused on the ceiling but there is much more to the Chapel than that, since most of the wall space is filled with wonderful 16th century paintings in jewel-bright colours. The most dramatic occupies the whole end wall, Michelangelo’s Last Judgment, painted 1536-41, more than twenty years after he painted the ceiling frescos. This is full of swirling energy and turmoil, with Christ hurling sinners into hell and raising the saved to paradise. It takes some effort to shift from the movement in the overall image to focus on the details - but when you do, one point in the bottom right corner has particular employment law resonance. In Hell, there is a portly figure with donkey’s ears and a large snake curled around him to cover his nakedness (actually, it is worse, but as this is a respectable professional blog I’ll leave it at that).  This is Minos, judge of the underworld, receiving the souls of the damned.  As a model, Michelangelo used Biagio de Cesena, the Pope’s Master of Ceremonies at the time, presumably without consent.  Michelangelo was always an irascible character, and Biagio was his loudest critic and objected to the many nude figures which Michelangelo included – but had his revenge in perpetuity.
  • Safety in the Sistine
    Posted by Stephen Booth on 18 Feb 2013
    As many of my clients know, I am taking a gap year in 2013, travelling the UK and Europe so my posts this year will have a travel theme. I have just finished 2 ½ weeks in Rome, where one of the top priorities of my wife and I was to see the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. You enter through a small door, onto a marble pavement which extends a couple of metres and then goes down 3 steps to the main floor. And as everyone knows about Michelangelo painting the ceiling, most visitors stop, and look up to stare, as soon as they get through the door, attention pretty much distracted from the steps by the sight of God creating the world, and creating Adam, and the brightly coloured portraits of sibyls and prophets. So, immediate WH&S issue: the risk of someone tumbling down the stairs is pretty high. And if the Work Health & Safety legislation applied, the Vatican would clearly have a duty to all these visitors to a workplace. At first glance, there is nothing in place to address the risk: no barriers, no high-vis markers on the edges of the marble steps, no prominent signs (no-one would look at them anyway!). It seems “all reasonably practicable steps” have not been taken to remove or minimise the risk.