You’ve always wanted to visit Rome and see the Sistine Chapel, but you can’t travel because of the pandemic? Worry not, there’s now a book made from impressive 270,000 images of the iconic chapel. The only problem is that the book itself costs way more than a journey to Italy – the price tag is a whopping $22,000.
The luxurious book is a result of a collaboration between Callaway Arts & Entertainment, the Vatican Museums, and the Italian art publisher Scripta Maneant of Bologna, Italy. It features ultra-high-resolution digital photography of every centimeter of the Sistine Chapel, and it took five years to create it. The photos produce a 1:1 life-scale rendering of masterpieces by Michelangelo, Botticelli, Perugino, and other Renaissance artists. They’re also color-matched to the original frescoes and the color matching is an impressive 99.4 percent.
It’s not just the photos that are impressive – it’s also the book itself. It’s made up of three volumes, and it’s huge: 24×17 inches (61×43 cm) in dimensions and 75 pounds (34kg) in weight. It features 822-pages of color-accurate, hi-res images, with handmade silk binding. Each of the books also has white-calf leather spines, and they are printed and silver, gold, and platinum foil stamping. “It’s all handmade,” Callaway told Forbes. “It’s a very interesting combination of advanced digital technology and traditional hand-craftsmanship. It’s exemplarity of the best of Italian craftsmanship.”
“The Sistine Chapel can be experienced through the pages with a precision, color, detail, and proximity not possible to see in person. The result is the first opportunity in history for viewers to appreciate the frescoes as Michelangelo and the other artists painted them, with images so clear, sharp, and immersive that the viewers feel as if they are side by side with the artist. We can observe in extreme close-up the artists’ precise colors and textures down to individual brush strokes.”
Other than the impressive amount of work that went into making this book, we can also thank the exclusivity factor for the high price tag. The set is only available in 1,999 copies, only 600 of which are in English. The book is a limited edition, meaning that it will never be reprinted once all the copies are sold out.
The Sistine Chapel photo book is available for preorders, although I doubt any of us would be able to afford it. But there’s good news for us: a part of these books will end up in museums and institutions worldwide where they will be available to the public.