Michelangelo didn’t have a great time painting the Sistine Chapel. The work conditions were less than stellar and his boss (Pope Julius II) enjoyed carrying around a stick to smack people with when he was upset.
While the outcome is a masterpiece, most of us can imagine the pain of spending hours looking up (he did not paint lying down) and painting with such detail – and it took him 4 years!
It was an uncomfortable job, to say the least. So uncomfortable, in fact, that Michelangelo wrote a little poem to a friend to let off some steam in 1509. He sent it to his friend Giovanni da Pistoia, and it went a little something like this:
I’ve already grown a goiter from this torture,
hunched up here like a cat in Lombardy
(or anywhere else where the stagnant water’s poison).
My stomach’s squashed under my chin, my beard’s
pointing at heaven, my brain’s crushed in a casket,
my breast twists like a harpy’s. My brush,
above me all the time, dribbles paint
so my face makes a fine floor for droppings!
My haunches are grinding into my guts,
my poor ass strains to work as a counterweight,
every gesture I make is blind and aimless.
My skin hangs loose below me, my spine’s
all knotted from folding over itself.
I’m bent taut as a Syrian bow.
Because I’m stuck like this, my thoughts
are crazy, perfidious tripe:
anyone shoots badly through a crooked blowpipe.
My painting is dead.
Defend it for me, Giovanni, protect my honor.
I am not in the right place—I am not a painter.
So, next time you feel like work is torture, just remember it could be worse! – WTF Fun Fact