Although in terms of the Genesis chronology it is the first of nine central panels along the Sistine ceiling, the Separation of Light from Darkness was the last of the nine panels painted by Michelangelo. Michelangelo painted the Sistine ceiling in two stages. Between May and the summer of , he completed the "entrance half" of the Sistine chapel and ended this stage by painting the Creation of Eve and the scenes flanking this central panel.
After an idle period of about 6 months, he painted the "altar half," starting with the Creation of Adam , between the winter of and October In the Separation of Light from Darkness , the image of God is framed by four ignudi and by two shields or medallions.
The ignudi are young, nude males that Michelangelo painted as supporting figures at each corner of the five smaller narrative scenes along the center of the ceiling. There are a total of 20 ignudi. These figures are all different and appear less constrained within their space than the Ancestors of Christ or the Bronze Nudes. In the earliest frescoes painted by Michelangelo toward the entrance of the Sistine chapel, the ignudi are paired, and their poses are similar but with minor variations.
The variations in the poses increase with each set until the poses of the final set of four ignudi in the Separation of Light from Darkness bear no relation to each other. Although the meaning of these figures has never been completely clear, the Sistine scholar Heinrich Pfeiffer has proposed that the four ignudi associated with the Separation of Light from Darkness represent day and night, which echo the theme of light and darkness.
Pfeiffer and other scholars have also suggested that in Michelangelo's Sistine iconography the ignudi represent angels and that the Bronze Nudes below the ignudi are fallen angels. Two shields or medallions accompany each set of four ignudi in the five smaller Genesis panels along the center of the Sistine ceiling. They are often described as painted to resemble bronze. Each is decorated with a picture from either the Old Testament or the Book of Maccabees from the Apocrypha. The subjects of the shields are often violent.
In the Separation of Light from Darkness the shield above God shows Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac Genesis —12 , and the one below God shows the prophet Elijah as he is carried up to heaven in a chariot of fire 2 Kings At the center of the composition, God is shown in contrapposto rising into the sky, with arms outstretched separating the light from the darkness.
Michelangelo employed in this fresco the challenging ceiling fresco technique of sotto in su "from below, upward" , which makes a figure appear as if it is rising above the viewer by using foreshortening. The contrapposto pose was also used by Michelangelo in the David. It is reported that Michelangelo painted this fresco in a single giornata , that is, a single working day of approximately eight hours. For instance, Giorgio Vasari — , Michelangelo's student and biographer, wrote in Art historians have noted several unusual features of this fresco.
Andrew Graham-Dixon has pointed out that God has exaggerated pectoral muscles suggestive of female breasts, which he interprets as Michelangelo's attempt to illustrate "male strength but also the fecundity of the female principle. The lighting scheme of the image has been noted to be inconsistent; whereas the entire scene is illuminated from the bottom left, God's neck appears to have a different light source from the right. Several authors have proposed that Michelangelo concealed anatomical images in this fresco and that these anatomical images account for its unusual features.
In an article published in the journal Neurosurgery in May , Ian Suk, a medical illustrator, and Rafael Tamargo, a neurosurgeon, both from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine , suggested that Michelangelo concealed three neuroanatomical images in the Separation of Light from Darkness. As a result of his dissections, Michelangelo probably developed a detailed understanding of gross anatomy of the brain and spinal cord.
They showed that the anatomical details in God's neck are unlike those of either other necks painted by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel or of other necks painted by Michelangelo's contemporaries, such as Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello Sanzio Raphael. The unusual anatomy of God's neck is particularly evident when it is contrasted with the anatomy of the neck of the ignudo facing God in the upper left corner of the panel.
The position of the neck of this ignudo is almost identical to that of God's neck, yet the ignudo's neck does not have any of the unusual lines found in God's neck. It is possible that Michelangelo placed these two analogous neck perspectives side by side to emphasize and contrast the hidden image in God's neck. Suk and Tamargo suggested that Michelangelo concealed a sophisticated image of the undersurface of the brainstem in God's neck and that by following Michelangelo's lines in God's neck, one can outline an anatomically correct image of the brainstem, cerebellum, temporal lobes, and optic chiasm.
In addition, they suggested that Michelangelo also included an anterior view of the spinal cord in God's chest and an image of the optic nerves and globes in God's abdomen. They showed how a "shadow analysis" of the unusual lines in God's neck correspond to specific spaces around the brainstem known as the "arachnoid cisterns," which were described in detail much later in but which Michelangelo inadvertently depicted in God's neck since he was able to render images with almost photographic accuracy.
They concluded that "being a painter of genius, a master anatomist, and a deeply religious man, Michelangelo cleverly enhanced his depiction of God in the iconographically critical panels on the Sistine Chapel vault with concealed images of the brain and in this way celebrated not only the glory of God, but also that of His most magnificent creation. Of note is that in an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in October , Frank Meshberger, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Indiana, explained that Michelangelo similarly concealed an image of the brain in the shroud surrounding God in the Creation of Adam.
I send good times and bad times. I, the LORD, am the one who does these things.
Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the LORD, created them. Psalm You made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to set. You send the darkness, and it becomes night, when all the forest animals prowl about.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
The sinful path is the dark path. Psalm But these oppressors know nothing; they are so ignorant! They wander about in darkness, while the whole world is shaken to the core.
No Christian lives in darkness. We have the light of Christ. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going.
Proverbs But the way of the wicked is like total darkness. They have no idea what they are stumbling over. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness. Ephesians Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness , but rather expose them.
Romans The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? Only fools would want to walk in darkness. For the wise can see where they are going, but fools walk in the dark. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Salvation brings light to people who are in the dark. Repent and trust in Christ alone for salvation. Isaiah The people walking in darkness have seen a great light ; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness. You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people have rejoiced before You as they rejoice at harvest time and as they rejoice when dividing spoils.
Acts Now get to your feet!
For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. You are to tell the world what you have seen and what I will show you in the future. And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Colossians always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,. Christians are the light of the world.