Caprese 1475 - 1564 Rome
Fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome
Depictions of the Cumaean Sibyl alone, without the figure of Tarquin, are more usual among contemporary artists. For Renaissance painters and patrons portrayals of sibyls provided an opportunity to paint elegant garments. Moreover, a series of these female figures was an ideal decorative motif for vaulted and other ceilings. One famous example is the series of sibyls painted by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
Michelangelo probably based his portrayal of the sibyl of Cumae on the metamorphosis she undergoes in Ovid’s famous book (14:130). Here the myth of the Cumaean Sibyl is given a surprising twist. Apollo fell in love with the sibyl and promised her eternal youth. She could not respond to his advances however, and so the god granted her everlasting life, but not everlasting youth. Michelangelo therefore painted the Cumaean as an extremely unattractive old woman with wrinkled skin, sunken cheeks, a pointed nose and a less than friendly expression.