Why don’t the fingers of God and Adam touch in Michelangelo’s famous painting?

Among the immortal works created by the talented Italian artist is ‘The Creation of Adam‘, a fresco measuring 280 × 570 cm. Painted by Michelangelo in 1511, this work represents the origin of the first man, and is part of a series of nine pictorial scenes inspired by the Old Testament book of Genesis.

The hand of God and Adam
The Creation of Adam is a fresco in the vault of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512.

In the left sector of the fresco, the presence of Adam is depicted in his nakedness, representing him as already formed and waiting to be infused with the gift of life. Thus, the figure of the first man lies reclining languidly on the surface of the earth, subject to the laws of gravity.

The upper portion of the work is notably occupied by a group of celestial figures suspended in the air, indicating their divine and supernatural nature. This entire group is enveloped in a pink mantle that floats in the sky, similar to a cloud.

Within the celestial ensemble, the figure of God, the Supreme Creator of Heaven and Earth, is prominent and is supported by cherubim. At the same time, he wraps his arm around a female figure, possibly Eve waiting to be created or perhaps symbolising knowledge. In his left hand, the Creator holds the shoulder of what appears to be a child or cherub, some suggesting that it may represent the soul that God will infuse into Adam’s body.

The reason why God and Adam do not touch each other’s hands

God and Adam, the main protagonists, appear to be connected through their hands, a central element in the composition: both hands open towards the connection between them by means of their extended index fingers. In spite of this, however, in the painting Adam’s and God’s fingers do not touch, as God’s finger is extended to the maximum, while Adam’s finger shows the last phalanges contracted.

According to theologians, the significance of Michelangelo’s impressive fresco is to illustrate visually that God is always present, but the decision to seek Him is up to the human being. If a person wishes to touch God and come close to him, he must stretch out his finger; however, by choosing not to do so, he could spend his entire life without the divine presence of the Creator.

Ultimately, the last contracted phalanx of Adam’s index finger symbolises free will, that is, the human being’s ability to choose between good and evil. He can choose freedom and eternal life by following God and Jesus Christ, but he can also choose death and eternal damnation by following Satan.

Where is the painting of God and Adam?

The work is in Rome, in the Sistine Chapel. You will have to travel to Italy and visit the Vatican Museums.

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