The Sistine Chapel: A Limited Edition

A remarkable three-volume collector’s set presents the complete works of the Sistine Chapel

by Edel Cassidy
Words Edel Cassidy

This giant magnum opus features life-size 1:1 renditions of the masterworks of Michelangelo, Botticelli, Perugino and other Renaissance artists, reproducing the most precise images of the artworks ever published.

To create this Sistine Chapel trilogy, a team of photographers worked for sixty-seven consecutive nights on a ten-metre-tall scaffold capturing every centimetre of the magnificent frescoes while the Sistine Chapel was closed to the public. Post-production, using imaging software, 270,000 individual frames were seamlessly stitched together and printed as digital proofs. These proofs were then meticulously colour-matched against the actual frescoes. The final images are 99.4 per cent accurate in terms of colour. 

This enormous 61cm x 43cm (24in x 17in) 822-page creation offers the first-ever opportunity to witness the frescoes of Michelangelo and the other artists in minute detail, with images so clear, sharp and immersive that colours and textures can be observed right down to the individual brush strokes. 

The Sistine Chapel, printed and hand-bound in Italy on Fedrigoni Symbol Tatami paper with white calf leather spines and debossing in silver, gold and platinum.
Sistine Chapel Limited Edition page spread
Index of the third volume of The Sistine Chapel. The image on the left, a detail from The Last Judgement, depicts Charon who beats the damned with an oar, as described in Dante’s Inferno.
Sistine Chapel Limited Edition
A team of photographers worked for sixty-seven consecutive nights on a ten-metre-tall scaffold. © Vatican Museums.

The set has been published as a limited edition: there are only 1,999 copies, never to be reprinted, with just 600 available in English. Each volume weighs 11.33kg (25lbs), with a total weight of 34kg (75lbs). They are bound in white calf leather, debossed in silver, gold and platinum foil stamping. The debossed handmade Italian endpapers feature the pattern of the Cosmati mosaic tiles in the Sistine Chapel. Each volume is protected by a custom cotton sleeve, and a pair of white cotton gloves is provided for archival handling. Each volume is encased in a bespoke handmade gift box. A separate box, printed in white and silver ink with matte film lamination, holds the three-volume collection.

This monumental project dovetails with the ongoing conservation programme of the Vatican Museums, which has never authorised a publication of this kind previously. The three-volume Sistine Chapel is an art treasure in itself, something to cherish and pass on as a valued heirloom.

Each set is numbered with a seal of authenticity and is available to order at:

The contents of the three individual books are as follows:

  • Frescoes of the 15th Century
  • Sistine Ceiling
  • The Last Judgement

Frescoes of the 15th Century

The first volume of The Sistine Chapel set (268 pages) is about the frescoes on the side walls of the chapel, painted between 1481 and 1483.

Detail of Stories from the Life of Moses, 1481–82, Sandro Botticelli. South Wall, Sistine Chapel. Fresco. Detail from the book, The Sistine Chapel
Stories from the Life of Moses, 1481–82, Sandro Botticelli. South Wall, Sistine Chapel. Fresco. 

Stories from the Life of Moses 

Showing seven scenes from the early life of Moses as described in the book of Exodus, this fresco is located in the second compartment on the south wall of the chapel. In each scene, Moses is distinguishable by his yellow dress, and in five of the scenes, he also wears a green cloak.

  • On the bottom right, Moses is killing an Egyptian overseer for beating one of the Israelite workers. To the right, a woman in blue comforts and leads away the young Israelite.
  • On the middle right, Moses flees into the desert to escape Pharaoh’s death penalty for killing the Egyptian.
  • To the left of this scene, Moses drives away two men, dressed in red and orange, who were preventing Jethro’s daughters (including his future wife, Zipporah) to water their sheep.
  • In the scene below, Moses helps the girls to get water for their sheep from the well and pours it into a trough.
  • On the top middle, Moses takes off his sandals as God has told him that he is standing on holy ground.
  • On the top left, God speaks to Moses from a burning bush.
  • On the bottom left, Moses stands in front of the Israelites, as he leads them out of slavery in Egypt to their promised land. (The detail above is from this scene).
  • ‘The Sistine Chapel: A Limited Edition’ is published in Anthology Volume 17. Read more features from this volume or buy it now.
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