“Michelangelo,” nagged the Pope. “You know your Last Judgment needs finishing. Remember you said you were going to give it some final touches—blue ultramarine and gold?”
Pope Julius II by Raphael; in the National Gallery of London (a Wikimedia Commons public domain photo)
Pope Julius and Michelangelo would sometimes sit and chat like old buddies.
Michelangelo by Jacopino del Conte (a Wikimedia Commons public domain photo)
“Nothing really important is missing, Holiness,” Michelangelo answered. He didn’t like the subject. It was the Pope’s fault that he hadn’t finished the big fresco when the scaffolding was up. Impatient Julius had ordered him to take it down so he could show the fresco to the public. Now who wanted to go to the trouble of setting up that scaffolding just for a few brushstrokes?
“You said a little gold would give it a richer appearance,” said the Pope.
“People don’t wear gold, you know,” Michelangelo said with a little hidden grin.
“Won’t the picture look poor?”
“Those men and women in the picture WERE poor, Holiness.”
The Pope was used to putting up with Michelangelo’s smart-aleckness by then or he would have clobbered him with his staff as he had done once before (and regretted it).
Michelangelo never did finish the job.
Some works of art look better “unfinished”…