In 1545, Jacopo da Pontormo scored a major commission from Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici to paint the main chapel of Florence’s church of San Lorenzo. A contemporary of masters like Michelangelo, Pontormo was a distinguished but aging artist who was eager to secure his legacy.
Pontormo knew he needed to make these frescoes the crowning achievement of his career, so he sealed off the entire chapel. He built walls, erected partitions, and hung blinds so that nobody could steal his ideas or sneak an early peek. Trusting no one, he chased away local youth and kept human contact to a minimum. He spent eleven years holed up, painting Christ on Judgement Day, Noah’s ark, and Creation itself.