The Creation of Adam is a fresco in The Sistine Chapel.

 

The Sistine Chapel is a chapel in the Apostolic Palace. It takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere who had the old Cappella Magna restored between 1477 and 1480. During his reign, a team of Renaissance painter (that included Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli) decorated walls with false drapes, the Stories of Moses and of Christ and the portraits of the Pope.

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti painted the chapel’s ceiling between 1508 and 1512, under Pope Julius II (nephew of Sixtus IV). The work was finished in October 1512 and on the Feast of All Saints (1 November), Julius II inaugurated the Sistine Chapel with a solemn Mass. The nine central panels show the Stories of Genesis.

 

The most popular panel is The Creation of Adam.

 

God is depicted as an elderly white-bearded man wrapped in a swirling cloak while Adam is completely nude. God's right arm is outstretched to impart the spark of life from his own finger into that of Adam, whose left arm is extended in a pose mirroring God's, a reminder that man is created in the image and likeness of God.

Adam's finger and God's finger are not touching. God, the giver of life, is reaching out to Adam who has yet to receive it.

 

Several hypotheses have been put forward about the meaning of The Creation of Adam's highly original composition. The first one says that the background figures and shapes portrayed behind the figure of God appeare to be an anatomically accurate picture of the human brain. Alternatively, it has been observed that the red cloth around God has the shape of a human uterus and that the scarf hanging out, coloured green, could be a newly cut umbilical cord.

 

The image of the near-touching hands of God and Adam has become iconic of humanity and The Creation of Adam is one of the most replicated religious paintings of all time.