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Saturdays, February 4 – February 25, 10:30am – 12:30pm


Michelangelo Buonarroti. Sistine Chapel Ceiling: Libyan Sibyl (detail), c. 1508–10 (fresco). Vatican Museums and Galleries, Vatican City. Alinari / Bridgeman Images

$220; members $198
(4 classes)

About the Class

The Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes painted by Michelangelo are a stunning achievement of design and technique, especially for an artist who preferred to work in sculpture. We will examine the immense masterpiece of the Sistine ceiling in detail and uncover Michelangelo's approach to painting. His sculptures will provide instructive points of comparison. We will discover Michelangelo’s inspirations and rivalries at the Vatican Palace and how this early, prestigious commission shaped his career. Later frescoes, including The Last Judgment, will reveal the artist’s changing style and status. Contemporary voices—friend and foe—will testify to the admiration and controversy that these frescoes inspired.

The class is online-only. More about online classes.

This course will:

  • Increase your understanding of art-related concepts.
  • Increase the ways you think critically about art.
  • Improve your ability to communicate about art.
  • Deepen your appreciation for cultures and histories outside your own.

Michelangelo Buonarroti. Sistine Chapel Ceiling: Libyan Sibyl, c. 1508–10 (fresco). Vatican Museums and Galleries, Vatican City. Alinari / Bridgeman Images


Julia L. Valiela

Valiela holds a PhD in the art and architecture of early modern Europe from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts. She teaches art history at universities in the Philadelphia area and specializes in the painting and sculpture of Renaissance Italy, with a particular interest in issues of gender and patronage. Her curatorial work includes research and exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Frick Collection.

Art in Context

Art in Context courses connect works of art to history: What was happening politically, socially, and culturally at the time a piece was made? How did these circumstances shape the artist’s formal choices?

Recent Barnes Class Testimonials

“[The] professor was highly engaging, facilitated excellent discussions, and [was] very knowledgeable. I learned a lot about teaching art history from watching her.” Course: Matisse and Picasso with Martha Lucy

“Every single second of the course was a productive, valuable, and interesting use of my time. The instructor's enthusiasm and reference to outside resources sparked a greater interest in me as a learner and resulted in me exploring even more on my own. I couldn't have enjoyed the experience more.” Course: Salvador Dalí: Surrealism and Beyond with Jonathan Wallis

“I am not an artist and prior to this course I had not thought about what an artist might be 'thinking,' as opposed to 'feeling.' I loved this course and plan to immerse myself in color theory.” Course: Visualizing Memory with Lucas Kelly

“This course is equal to or exceeds art history courses I have taken at several major universities in terms of syllabus and quality of instruction.” Course: The School of Paris with Joseph Tokumasu Field