Happy Easter! Today we celebrate the fact that God can always, always do the impossible, and turn what appears to be a total disaster into a fabulous success! Never doubt that God is in full control, and knows exactly what He is doing… even when we don’t.
This 16th-century fresco by Hendrick van den Broeck probably doesn’t look too familiar to most people who’ve been to the Sistine Chapel–but it’s in there. While Michelangelo naturally gets the lion’s share of tourists’ attention, today van den Broeck’s work merits a closer look.
It’s one of the newest frescos found in the Sistine Chapel, relatively speaking. Originally Domenico Ghirlandaio had painted his own version of the same scene in the same space, along the chapel’s short back wall; but damage to the wall itself necessitated a redo, less than a century later. This is an inherent problem which all frescos share: since they are painted directly into wet plaster, they literally become part of the wall–or the ceiling, as the case may be–and so when the wall or ceiling is damaged, the fresco is too.
In Rome, paintings by Flemish artists like Hendrick van den Broeck are few and far between, and tend to get overshadowed by the works of the great Italian Masters. And yet theologically, this Flemish work is the most important of all the frescos in the Sistine Chapel. The story of creation on the ceiling is followed by scenes from the Old and New Testaments on the side walls… culminating in Our Lord’s triumph over death, by which He opened to all of us the Gates of Paradise.