|Chalk portrait of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra|
|Birth name||Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni|
|Born||6 March 1475
near Arezzo, in Caprese, Tuscany
|Died||18 February 1564 (aged 88)
|Field||sculpture, painting, architecture, and poetry|
|Training||Apprentice to Domenico Ghirlandaio |
|Works||David, The Creation of Adam, Pietà|
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer. Despite making few forays beyond the arts, his versatility in the disciplines he took up was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with his rival and fellow Italian Leonardo da Vinci.
Michelangelo's output in every field during his long life was prodigious; when the sheer volume of correspondence, sketches, and reminiscences that survive is also taken into account, he is the best-documented artist of the 16th century. Two of his best-known works, the Pietà and David, were sculpted before he turned thirty. Despite his low opinion of painting, Michelangelo also created two of the most influential works in fresco in the history of Western art: the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling and The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. As an architect, Michelangelo pioneered the Mannerist style at the Laurentian Library. At 74 he succeeded Antonio da Sangallo the Younger as the architect of Saint Peter's Basilica. Michelangelo transformed the plan, the western end being finished to Michelangelo's design, the dome being completed after his death with some modification.
In a demonstration of Michelangelo's unique standing, he was the first Western artist whose biography was published while he was alive. Two biographies were published of him during his lifetime; one of them, by Giorgio Vasari, proposed that he was the pinnacle of all artistic achievement since the beginning of the Renaissance, a viewpoint that continued to have currency in art history for centuries. In his lifetime he was also often called Il Divino ("the divine one"). One of the qualities most admired by his contemporaries was his terribilità, a sense of awe-inspiring grandeur, and it was the attempts of subsequent artists to imitate Michelangelo's impassioned and highly personal style that resulted in Mannerism, the next major movement in Western art after the High Renaissance.
Michelangelo was born on 6 March 1475[a] in Caprese near Arezzo, Tuscany. His family had for several generations been small-scale bankers in Florence but his father, Lodovico di Leonardo di Buonarroti di Simoni, failed to maintain the bank's financial status, and held occasional government positions. At the time of Michelangelo's birth, his father was the Judicial administrator of the small town of Caprese and local administrator of Chiusi. Michelangelo's mother was Francesca di Neri del Miniato di Siena. The Buonarrotis claimed to descend from the Countess Mathilde of Canossa; this claim remains unproven, but Michelangelo himself believed it. Several months after Michelangelo's birth the family returned to Florence where Michelangelo was raised. At later times, during the prolonged illness and after the death of his mother when he was seven years old, Michelangelo lived with a stonecutter and his wife and family in the town of Settignano where his father owned a marble quarry and a small farm. Giorgio Vasari quotes Michelangelo as saying, "If there is some good in me, it is because I was born in the subtle atmosphere of your country of Arezzo. Along with the milk of my nurse I received the knack of handling chisel and hammer, with which I make my figures."
Michelangelo's father sent him to study grammar with the Humanist Francesco da Urbino in Florence as a young boy.[b] The young artist, however, showed no interest in his schooling, preferring to copy paintings from churches and seek the company of painters. At thirteen, Michelangelo was apprenticed to the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio. When Michelangelo was only fourteen, his father persuaded Ghirlandaio to pay his apprentice as an artist, which was highly unusual at the time. When in 1489 Lorenzo de' Medici, de facto ruler of Florence, asked Ghirlandaio for his two best pupils, Ghirlandaio sent Michelangelo and Francesco Granacci. From 1490 to 1492, Michelangelo attended the Humanist academy which the Medici had founded along Neo Platonic lines. Michelangelo studied sculpture under Bertoldo di Giovanni. At the academy, both Michelangelo's outlook and his art were subject to the influence of many of the most prominent philosophers and writers of the day including Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola and Angelo Poliziano. At this time Michelangelo sculpted the reliefs Madonna of the Steps (1490–1492) and Battle of the Centaurs (1491–1492). The latter was based on a theme suggested by Poliziano and was commissioned by Lorenzo de Medici. While both were apprenticed to Bertoldo di Giovanni, Pietro Torrigiano struck the 17 year old on the nose, and thus caused that disfigurement which is so conspicuous in all the portraits of Michelangelo.
Lorenzo de' Medici's death on 8 April 1492, brought a reversal of Michelangelo's circumstances. Michelangelo left the security of the Medici court and returned to his father's house. In the following months he carved a wooden crucifix (1493), as a gift to the prior of the Florentine church of Santo Spirito, who had permitted him some studies of anatomy on the corpses of the church's hospital. Between 1493 and 1494 he bought a block of marble for a larger than life statue of Hercules, which was sent to France and subsequently disappeared sometime circa 1700s.[c] On 20 January 1494, after heavy snowfalls, Lorenzo's heir, Piero de Medici commissioned a snow statue, and Michelangelo again entered the court of the Medici.
In the same year, the Medici were expelled from Florence as the result of the rise of Savonarola. Michelangelo left the city before the end of the political upheaval, moving to Venice and then to Bologna. In Bologna he was commissioned to finish the carving of the last small figures of the Shrine of St. Dominic, in the church dedicated to that saint. Towards the end 1494, the political situation in Florence was calmer. The city, previously under threat from the French, was no longer in danger as Charles VIII had suffered defeats. Michelangelo returned to Florence but received no commissions from the new city government under Savonarola. He returned to the employment of the Medici. During the half year he spent in Florence he worked on two small statues, a child St. John the Baptist and a sleeping Cupid. According to Condivi, Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici, for whom Michelangelo had sculpted St. John the Baptist, asked that Michelangelo "fix it so that it looked as if it had been buried" so he could "send it to Rome…pass [it off as] an ancient work and…sell it much better." Both Lorenzo and Michelangelo were unwittingly cheated out of the real value of the piece by a middleman. Cardinal Raffaele Riario, to whom Lorenzo had sold it, discovered that it was a fraud, but was so impressed by the quality of the sculpture that he invited the artist to Rome. [d] This apparent success in selling his sculpture abroad as well as the conservative Florentine situation may have encouraged Michelangelo to accept the prelate's invitation.
Michelangelo arrived in Rome 25 June 1496 at the age of 21. On 4 July of the same year, he began work on a commission for Cardinal Raffaele Riario, an over-life-size statue of the Roman wine god, Bacchus. However, upon completion, the work was rejected by the cardinal, and subsequently entered the collection of the banker Jacopo Galli, for his garden.
In November of 1497, the French ambassador in the Holy See commissioned one of his most famous works, the Pietà and the contract was agreed upon in August of the following year. The contemporary opinion about this work — "a revelation of all the potentialities and force of the art of sculpture" — was summarized by Vasari: "It is certainly a miracle that a formless block of stone could ever have been reduced to a perfection that nature is scarcely able to create in the flesh."
In Rome, Michelangelo lived near the church of Santa Maria di Loreto. Here, according to the legend, he fell in love with Vittoria Colonna, marquise of Pescara and a poet. His house was demolished in 1874, and the remaining architectural elements saved by the new proprietors were destroyed in 1930. Today a modern reconstruction of Michelangelo's house can be seen on the Gianicolo hill. It is also during this period that skeptics allege Michelangelo executed the sculpture Laocoön and His Sons which resides in the Vatican.
Michelangelo returned to Florence in 1499–1501. Things were changing in the republic after the fall of anti-Renaissance Priest and leader of Florence, Girolamo Savonarola (executed in 1498) and the rise of the gonfaloniere Pier Soderini. He was asked by the consuls of the Guild of Wool to complete an unfinished project begun 40 years earlier by Agostino di Duccio: a colossal statue portraying David as a symbol of Florentine freedom, to be placed in the Piazza della Signoria, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. Michelangelo responded by completing his most famous work, the Statue of David in 1504. This masterwork, created out of a marble block from the quarries at Carrara that had already been worked on by an earlier hand, definitively established his prominence as a sculptor of extraordinary technical skill and strength of symbolic imagination.
Also during this period, Michelangelo painted the Holy Family and St John, also known as the Doni Tondo or the Holy Family of the Tribune: it was commissioned for the marriage of Angelo Doni and Maddalena Strozzi and in the 17th century hung in the room known as the Tribune in the Uffizi. He also may have painted the Madonna and Child with John the Baptist, known as the Manchester Madonna and now in the National Gallery, London.
In 1505 Michelangelo was invited back to Rome by the newly elected Pope Julius II. He was commissioned to build the Pope's tomb. Under the patronage of the Pope, Michelangelo had to constantly stop work on the tomb in order to accomplish numerous other tasks. Because of these interruptions, Michelangelo worked on the tomb for 40 years. The tomb, of which the central feature is Michelangelo's statue of Moses, was never finished to Michelangelo's satisfaction. It is located in the Church of S. Pietro in Vincoli in Rome.
During the same period, Michelangelo took the commission to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which took approximately four years to complete (1508–1512). According to Michelangelo's account, Bramante and Raphael convinced the Pope to commission Michelangelo in a medium not familiar to the artist. This was done in order that he, Michelangelo, would suffer unfavorable comparisons with his rival Raphael, who at the time was at the peak of his own artistry as the primo fresco painter. However, this story is discounted by modern historians on the grounds of contemporary evidence, and may merely have been a reflection of the artist's own perspective.
Michelangelo was originally commissioned to paint the 12 Apostles against a starry sky, but lobbied for a different and more complex scheme, representing creation, the Downfall of Man and the Promise of Salvation through the prophets and Genealogy of Christ. The work is part of a larger scheme of decoration within the chapel which represents much of the doctrine of the Catholic Church.
The composition eventually contained over 300 figures and had at its center nine episodes from the Book of Genesis, divided into three groups: God's Creation of the Earth; God's Creation of Humankind and their fall from God's grace; and lastly, the state of Humanity as represented by Noah and his family. On the pendentives supporting the ceiling are painted twelve men and women who prophesied the coming of the Jesus. They are seven prophets of Israel and five Sibyls, prophetic women of the Classical world.
Among the most famous paintings on the ceiling are the Creation of Adam, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood, the Prophet Isaiah and the Cumaean Sibyl. Around the windows are painted the ancestors of Christ.
In 1513 Pope Julius II died and his successor Pope Leo X, a Medici, commissioned Michelangelo to reconstruct the façade of the basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence and to adorn it with sculptures. Michelangelo agreed reluctantly. The three years he spent in creating drawings and models for the facade, as well as attempting to open a new marble quarry at Pietrasanta specifically for the project, were among the most frustrating in his career, as work was abruptly cancelled by his financially-strapped patrons before any real progress had been made. The basilica lacks a facade to this day.
Apparently not the least embarrassed by this turnabout, the Medici later came back to Michelangelo with another grand proposal, this time for a family funerary chapel in the basilica of San Lorenzo. Fortunately for posterity, this project, occupying the artist for much of the 1520s and 1530s, was more fully realized. Though still incomplete, it is the best example we have of the integration of the artist's sculptural and architectural vision, since Michelangelo created both the major sculptures as well as the interior plan. Ironically the most prominent tombs are those of two rather obscure Medici who died young, a son and grandson of Lorenzo. Il Magnifico himself is buried in an unfinished and comparatively unimpressive tomb on one of the side walls of the chapel, not given a free-standing monument, as originally intended.
In 1527, the Florentine citizens, encouraged by the sack of Rome, threw out the Medici and restored the republic. A siege of the city ensued, and Michelangelo went to the aid of his beloved Florence by working on the city's fortifications from 1528 to 1529. The city fell in 1530 and the Medici were restored to power. Completely out of sympathy with the repressive reign of the ducal Medici, Michelangelo left Florence for good in the mid-1530s, leaving assistants to complete the Medici chapel. Years later his body was brought back from Rome for interment at the Basilica di Santa Croce, fulfilling the maestro's last request to be buried in his beloved Tuscany.
The fresco of The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel was commissioned by Pope Clement VII, who died shortly after assigning the commission. Paul III was instrumental in seeing that Michelangelo began and completed the project. Michelangelo labored on the project from 1534 to October 1541. The work is massive and spans the entire wall behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel. The Last Judgment is a depiction of the second coming of Christ and the apocalypse; where the souls of humanity rise and are assigned to their various fates, as judged by Christ, surrounded by the Saints.
Once completed, the depictions of nakedness in the papal chapel was considered obscene and sacrilegious, and Cardinal Carafa and Monsignor Sernini (Mantua's ambassador) campaigned to have the fresco removed or censored, but the Pope resisted. After Michelangelo's death, it was decided to obscure the genitals ("Pictura in Cappella Ap.ca coopriantur"). So Daniele da Volterra, an apprentice of Michelangelo, was commissioned to cover with perizomas (briefs) the genitals, leaving unaltered the complex of bodies. When the work was restored in 1993, the conservators chose not to remove all the perizomas of Daniele, leaving some of them as a historical document, and because some of Michelangelo’s work was previously scraped away by the touch-up artist's application of “decency” to the masterpiece. A faithful uncensored copy of the original, by Marcello Venusti, can be seen at the Capodimonte Museum of Naples.
Censorship always followed Michelangelo, once described as "inventor delle porcherie" ("inventor of obscenities", in the original Italian language referring to "pork things"). The infamous "fig-leaf campaign" of the Counter-Reformation, aiming to cover all representations of human genitals in paintings and sculptures, started with Michelangelo's works. To give two examples, the marble statue of Cristo della Minerva (church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome) was covered by added drapery, as it remains today, and the statue of the naked child Jesus in Madonna of Bruges (The Church of Our Lady in Bruges, Belgium) remained covered for several decades. Also, the plaster copy of the David in the Cast Courts (Victoria and Albert Museum) in London, has a fig leaf in a box at the back of the statue. It was there to be placed over the statue's genitals so that they would not upset visiting female royalty.
In 1546, Michelangelo was appointed architect of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, and designed its dome. As St. Peter's was progressing there was concern that Michelangelo would pass away before the dome was finished. However, once building commenced on the lower part of the dome, the supporting ring, the completion of the design was inevitable.
On 7 December 2007, Michelangelo's red chalk sketch for the dome of St Peter's Basilica, his last before his 1564 death, was discovered in the Vatican archives. It is extremely rare, since he destroyed his designs later in life. The sketch is a partial plan for one of the radial columns of the cupola drum of Saint Peter's.
Michelangelo worked on many projects that had been started by other men, most notably in his work at St Peter's Basilica, Rome. The Campidoglio, designed by Michelangelo during the same period, rationalized the structures and spaces of Rome's Capitoline Hill. Its shape, more a rhomboid than a square, was intended to counteract the effects of perspective. The major Florentine architectural projects by Michelangelo are the unexecuted façade for the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence and the Medici Chapel (Capella Medicea) and Laurentian Library there, and the fortifications of Florence. The major Roman projects are St. Peter's, Palazzo Farnese, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, the Sforza Chapel (Capella Sforza) in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Porta Pia and Santa Maria degli Angeli.
Around 1530 Michelangelo designed the Laurentian Library in Florence, attached to the church of San Lorenzo. He produced new styles such as pilasters tapering thinner at the bottom, and a staircase with contrasting rectangular and curving forms.
Michelangelo designed the Medici Chapel. The Medici Chapel has monuments in it dedicated to certain members of the Medici family. Michelangelo never finished the project, so his pupils later completed it. Lorenzo the Magnificent was buried at the entrance wall of the Medici Chapel. Sculptures of the "Madonna and Child" and the Medici patron saints Cosmas and Damian were set over his burial. The "madonna and child" was Michelangelo's own work.
Michelangelo, who was often arrogant with others and constantly dissatisfied with himself, saw art as originating from inner inspiration and from culture. In contradiction to the ideas of his rival, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo saw nature as an enemy that had to be overcome. The figures that he created are forceful and dynamic, each in its own space apart from the outside world. For Michelangelo, the job of the sculptor was to free the forms that were already inside the stone. He believed that every stone had a sculpture within it, and that the work of sculpting was simply a matter of chipping away all that was not a part of the statue.
Several anecdotes reveal that Michelangelo's skill, especially in sculpture, was greatly admired in his own time. Another Lorenzo de Medici wanted to use Michelangelo to make some money. He had Michelangelo sculpt a Cupid that looked worn and old. Lorenzo paid Michelangelo 30 ducats, but sold the Cupid for 200 ducats. Cardinal Raffaele Riario became suspicious and sent someone to investigate. The man had Michelangelo do a sketch for him of a Cupid, and then told Michelangelo that while he received 30 ducats for his Cupid, Lorenzo had passed the Cupid off for an antique and sold it for 200 ducats. Michelangelo then confessed that he had done the Cupid, but had no idea that he had been cheated. After the truth was revealed, the Cardinal later took this as proof of his skill and commissioned his Bacchus. Another better-known anecdote claims that when finishing the Moses (San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome), Michelangelo violently hit the knee of the statue with a hammer, shouting, "Why don't you speak to me?"
In his personal life, Michelangelo was abstemious. He told his apprentice, Ascanio Condivi: "However rich I may have been, I have always lived like a poor man." Condivi said he was indifferent to food and drink, eating "more out of necessity than of pleasure" and that he "often slept in his clothes and ... boots." These habits may have made him unpopular. His biographer Paolo Giovio says, "His nature was so rough and uncouth that his domestic habits were incredibly squalid, and deprived posterity of any pupils who might have followed him." He may not have minded, since he was by nature a solitary and melancholy person. He had a reputation for being bizzarro e fantastico because he "withdrew himself from the company of men." 
Fundamental to Michelangelo's art is his love of male beauty, which attracted him both aesthetically and emotionally. In part, this was an expression of the Renaissance idealization of masculinity. But in Michelangelo's art there is clearly a sensual response to this aesthetic.
The sculptor's expressions of love have been characterized as both Neoplatonic and openly homoerotic; recent scholarship seeks an interpretation which respects both readings, yet is wary of drawing absolute conclusions. One example of the conundrum is Cecchino dei Bracci, whose death, only a year after their meeting in 1543, inspired the writing of forty eight funeral epigrams, which by some accounts allude to a relationship that was not only romantic but physical as well:
La carne terra, e qui l'ossa mia, prive
The flesh now earth, and here my bones,
According to others, they represent an emotionless and elegant re-imagining of Platonic dialogue, whereby erotic poetry was seen as an expression of refined sensibilities (Indeed, it must be remembered that professions of love in 16th century Italy were given a far wider application than now). Some young men were street wise and took advantage of the sculptor. Febbo di Poggio, in 1532, peddled his charms—in answer to Michelangelo's love poem he asks for money. Earlier, Gherardo Perini, in 1522, had stolen from him shamelessly. Michelangelo defended his privacy above all. When an employee of his friend Niccolò Quaratesi offered his son as apprentice suggesting that he would be good even in bed, Michelangelo refused indignantly, suggesting Quaratesi fire the man.
The greatest written expression of his love was given to Tommaso dei Cavalieri (c. 1509–1587), who was 23 years old when Michelangelo met him in 1532, at the age of 57. Cavalieri was open to the older man's affection: I swear to return your love. Never have I loved a man more than I love you, never have I wished for a friendship more than I wish for yours. Cavalieri remained devoted to Michelangelo until his death.
Michelangelo dedicated to him over three hundred sonnets and madrigals, constituting the largest sequence of poems composed by him. Some modern commentators assert that the relationship was merely a Platonic affection, even suggesting that Michelangelo was seeking a surrogate son. However, their homoerotic nature was recognized in his own time, so that a decorous veil was drawn across them by his grand nephew, Michelangelo the Younger, who published an edition of the poetry in 1623 with the gender of pronouns changed. John Addington Symonds, the early British homosexual activist, undid this change by translating the original sonnets into English and writing a two-volume biography, published in 1893.
The sonnets are the first large sequence of poems in any modern tongue addressed by one man to another, predating Shakespeare's sonnets to his young friend by a good fifty years.
Late in life he nurtured a great love for the poet and noble widow Vittoria Colonna, whom he met in Rome in 1536 or 1538 and who was in her late forties at the time. They wrote sonnets for each other and were in regular contact until she died.
It is impossible to know for certain whether Michelangelo had physical relationships (Condivi ascribed to him a "monk-like chastity"), but through his poetry and visual art we may at least glimpse the arc of his imagination.
MICHELANGELO (MICHELAGNIOLO BUONARROTI) (1475-1564), the most famous of the great Florentine artists of the Renaissance, was the son of Ludovico Buonarroti, a poor gentleman of that city, and of his wife Francesca dei Neri. The Buonarroti Simoni were an old and pure Florentine stock of the Guelf faction: in the days of Michelangelo's fame a connexion of the family with the counts of Canossa was imagined and admitted on both sides, but has no foundation in fact. Ludovico was barely able to live on the income of his estate, but made it his boast that he had never stooped to add to it by mercantile or mechanical pursuits. The favour of the Medici procured him temporary employment in minor offices of state, among them that of podesta or resident magistrate for six months, from the autumn of 1474, at Castello di Chiusi and Caprese in the Casentino. At Caprese, on the 6th of March 1475, his second son Michelagniolo or Michelangelo was born. Immediately afterwards the family returned to Florence, and the child was put to nurse with a marble-worker's wife of Settignano. His mother's health had already, it would seem, begun to fail; at all events in a few years from this time, after she had borne her husband three more sons, she died. While still a young boy Michelangelo determined, in spite of his father's opposition, to be an artist. He had sucked in the passion, as he himself used to say, with his foster-mother's milk. After a sharp struggle his stubborn will overcome his father's pride of gentility, and at thirteen he got himself articled as a paid assistant in the workshop of the brothers Ghirlandaio. Domenico Ghirlandaio, bred a jeweller, had become by this time the foremost painter of Florence. In his service the young Michelangelo laid the foundations of that skill in fresco with which twenty years afterwards he confounded his detractors at Rome. He studied also, like all the Florentine artists of that age, in the Brancacci chapel, where the frescoes of Masaccio, painted some sixty years before, still victoriously held their own; and here, in reply, to a taunt he had flung at a fellow-student, Torrigiano, he received the blow on the nose which disfigured him to his dying day.
Though Michelangelo's earliest studies were directed towards painting, he was by nature and predilection much more inclined to sculpture. In that art he presently received encouragement and training under the eye of an illustrious patron, Lorenzo dei Medici. On the recommendation, it is said, of Ghirlandaio, he was transferred, before the term of his apprenticeship as a painter had expired, to the school of sculpture established by Lorenzo in the Medici gardens. Here he could learn to match himself against his great predecessor, Donatello, one of whose pupils and assistants, the aged Bertoldo, was director of the school, and to compare the works of that master and his Tuscan contemporaries with the antiques collected for the instruction of the scholars. Here, too, he could listen to discourses on Platonism, and steep himself in the doctrines of an enthusiastic philosophy which sought to reconcile with Christian faith the lore and the doctrines of the Academy. Michelangelo remained a Christian Platonist to the end of his days; he was also from his youth up a devoted student of Dante. His powers of mind and hand soon attracted attention, and secured him the regard and favour of his patrons in spite of his rugged exterior and scornful unsociable temper.
Michelangelo had been attached to the school and household of the Medici for barely three years when, in 1492, his great patron Lorenzo died. Lorenzo's son Piero dei Medici inherited the position but not the qualities of his father; Florence soon chafed under his authority; and towards the autumn of 1494 it became apparent that disaster was impending over him and his adherents. Michelangelo was constitutionally subject to dark and sudden presentiments: one such seized him now, and without awaiting the popular outbreak, which soon followed, he took horse with two companions and fled to Bologna. There, being now in his twentieth year, he was received with kindness by a member of the Aldovrandi family, on whose commission he executed two figures of saints and one of an angel for the shrine of St Dominic in the church of St Petronius. After about a year, work at Bologna failing, and his name having been included in his absence on the list of artists appointed to provide a new hall of assembly for the great council of Florence, Michelangelo returned home. The strange theocracy established by Savonarola was now in force, and the whole character of civic life at Florence was for the time being changed. The influence of the fervent Dominican upon the mind and character of the young Michelangelo became as profound as that of the Platonists and of Dante. He was not left without employment. He found a friend in another Lorenzo, the son of Pierfrancesco dei Medici, for whom he at this time executed a statue of the boy St John. Having also carved a recumbent Cupid in imitation of the antique, it was suggested to him by the same patron that it should be so tinted and treated as to look like a real antique, and sold accordingly. Without increasing the price he put upon the work, Michelangelo for amusement lent himself to the counterfeit, and the piece was then actually sold for a large sum, as a genuine work of antiquity, to a Roman collector, Raffaelle Riario, cardinal di San Giorgio; the dealer appropriating the profits. When the cardinal discovered the fraud he caused the dealer to refund; but as to Michelangelo himself, it was represented to the young sculptor that if he went to Rome the amateur who had just involuntarily paid so high a tribute to his skill would certainly befriend him. He set forth accordingly, and arrived at Rome for the first time at the end of June 1496. Such hopes as he may have entertained of countenance from the cardinal di San Giorgio were quickly dispelled. Neither did the banished Piero dei Medici, who also was now living at Rome, do anything to help him. On the other hand Michelangelo won the favour of a Roman nobleman, Jacopo Galli, and through him of the French cardinal Jean de Villiers de la Grolaie, abbot of St Denis. From the former he received a commission for a " Cupid " and a " Bacchus," from the latter for a " Pieta " or " Mary lamenting over the body of Christ " - works of which the two last named only are preserved. Equal originality of conception and magnificence of technical execution mark the two contrasted subjects - one as noble and the other as nearly ignoble as anything Michelangelo ever did - of the mother with the dead son on her lap, indicating with a contained but eloquent gesture of her left hand a tragedy too great for outcries, and the titubant sensual young wine-god (a condition in which ancient art would never have exhibited the god himself, but only his satellites).
Michelangelo's stay in Rome at this time lasted five years - from the summer of 1496 till that of 150'. The interval had been one of extreme political distraction at Florence. The excitement of the French invasion, the mystic and ascetic regimen of Savonarola, the reaction which led to his overthrow, and finally the external wars and internal dissidences which preceded a new settlement, had all created an atmosphere most unfavourable to art. Nevertheless Ludovico Buonarroti, who in the troubles of 1494 had lost a small permanent appointment he held in the customs, and had come to regard his son Michelangelo as the mainstay of his house, had been repeatedly urging him to come home. A spirit of family duty and family pride was the ruling principle in all Michelangelo's conduct. During the best years of his life he submitted himself sternly and without a murmur to pinching hardship and almost superhuman labour for the sake of his father and brothers, who were ever selfishLy ready to be fed and helped by him. Having now, after an illness, come home in 1501, Michelangelo was requested by the cardinal Francesco Piccolomini to adorn with a number of sculptured figures a shrine already begun in the cathedral of Siena in honour of the most distinguished member of his house, Pope Pius II. Four only of these figures were ever executed, and those not apparently, or only in small part, by the master's hand. A work of greater interest in Florence itself had diverted him from his engagement to his Sienese patrons. This was the execution of the famous colossal statue of David, popularly known as " the Giant." It was carved out of a huge block of marble on which another sculptor, Agostino d'Antonio, had begun unsuccessfully to work forty years before, and which had been lying idle ever since. Michelangelo had here a difficult problem before him. Without much regard to the traditional treatment of the subject or the historical character of his hero, he carved out of the vast but cramped mass of material an adolescent, frowning colossus, tensely watchful and self-balanced in preparation for his great action. The result amazed every beholder by its freedom and science of execution and its victorious energy of expression. All the best artists of Florence were' called in council to determine on what site it should be set up, and after much debate the terrace of the palace of the Signory was chosen, in preference to the neighbouring Loggia dei Lanzi. Here accordingly the colossal " David " of Michelangelo took, in the month of May 1504, the place which it continued to hold until in 1882 it was removed for the sake of protection to a hall in the Academy of Fine Arts, where it inevitably looks crushed and cabined. Other works of sculpture belong to the same period: among them a second " David," in bronze and on a smaller scale, commissioned by the marechal Pierre Rohan and left by the young master to be finished by Benedetto da Rovezzano, who despatched it to France in 1508; a great rough-hewn " St Matthew " begun but never completed for the cathedral of Florence; a " Madonna and Child " executed on the commission of a merchant of Bruges; and two unfinished bas-reliefs of the same subject.
Neither was Michelangelo idle at the same time as a painter. Leaving disputed works for the moment out of sight, he in these days at any rate painted for his and Raphael's common patron, Angelo Doni, the " Holy Family " now in the Uffizi at Florence. In the autumn of 1504, the year of the completion of the " David," he received from the Florentine state a commission for a work of monumental painting on a heroic scale. Leonardo da Vinci had been for some months engaged on his great cartoon of the " Battle of Anghiari," to be painted on the wall of the great hall of the municipal council. The gonfaloniere Piero Soderini now procured for Michelangelo the commission to design a companion work. Michelangelo chose an incident at the battle of Cascina during the Pisan war of 1364, when the Florentine soldiery had been surprised by the enemy in the act of bathing. He dashed at the task with his accustomed fiery energy, and had carried a great part of the cartoon to completion when, in the early spring of 1505, he broke off the work in order to obey a call to Rome which reached him from Pope Julius II. His unfinished cartoon, in its power over the varieties and contrasts of energetic and vitally significant action, showed how greatly Michelangelo had profited by the example of his elder rival, Leonardo, little as, personally, he yielded to Leonardo's charm or could bring himself to respond to his courtesy. The work of Michelangelo's youth is for the most part comparatively tranquil in character. His early sculpture, showing a degree of science and perfection unequalled since the antique, has also something of the antique serenity. It bears strongly the stamp of intellectual research, but not by any means that of storm or strain. In the cartoon of the " Bathers " the qualities afterwards proverbially associated with Michelangelo - his furia, his terribilitd, the tempest and hurricane of the spirit which accompanied his unequalled technical mastery and knowledge - first found expression.
With Michelangelo's departure to Rome early in 1505 the first part of his artistic career may be said to end. It will be convenient here to recapitulate its principal results in sculpture and painting, both those preserved and those recorded but lost.
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Florence, 14891 494. - " Head of a Faun," marble; lost. Condivi describes Michelangelo's first essay in sculpture as a head of an aged faun with a front tooth knocked out, this latter point having been an afterthought suggested by Lorenzo dei Medici. The head is sometimes identified with one in the National Museum at Florence, which however bears no marks of Michelangelo's early style and is in all probability spurious. - " Madonna seated on a Step," bronze; Casa Buonarroti, Florence. This bas-relief, executed in imitation of the technical style of Donatello, is a genuine example of Michelangelo's early work in the Medicean school under Bertoldo. - " Centauromachia," marble; Casa Buonarroti. A fine and genuine work in full relief, of probably somewhat later date than the last-mentioned. The subject occurs often in ancient sarcophagus reliefs: Michelangelo has followed the antique in his conception and treatment of the nude, but the arrangement of the subject is his own.
Statuettes of " St Petronius," " St Proculus," and a " Kneeling Angel," marble; part of the decorations of the shrine of St Dominic in the church of that saint at Bologna: the style of all three much influenced by the work of Jacopo della Quercia in the same church; the attitude of the kneeling angel with the candelabrum imitated from an ancient bas-relief.
" St John in the Wilderness," executed for Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco dei Medici, marble; probably lost. Declared in 1874 to have been found again in the possession of Count Gualandi-Rossalmini at Pisa. Vehement and prolonged discussion arose as to the authenticity of this newly-found S. Giovannino, and at last it was bought for the Berlin Museum, where its genuineness is still stoutly maintained. But the finicking and affected elegance of the conception denote a different temperament from Michelangelo's and probably a later date. With this figure must be given up also the restoration of an antique group of " Bacchus and Ampelus " at the Uffizi, which is clearly by the same hand and is claimed also as an early work of Michelangelo. - " Recumbent Cupid," bought by the cardinal San Giorgio as an antique, marble; lost. The attempts to recognize it in certain extant copies or servile imitations of the antique, especially one now at Turin, must be held mistaken.
" Virgin lamenting the dead Christ," commissioned by the abbot de la Grolaie; marble, St Peter's, Rome.- " Bacchus and young Faun," commissioned by Jacopo Galli; marble, National Museum, Florence. (Of these two masterpieces of Michelangelo's youth enough has been said above). - " Cupid," commissioned by the abbot de la Grolaie; marble; lost; has been commonly identified as the " Kneeling Cupid " of the Victoria and Albert Museum, but this, if by Michelangelo at all, which is not quite certain, must in all likelihood belong to a later time.
" Five Saints, in niches decorating the shrine of Pius II.," commissioned by the Piccolomini family; marble; cathedral of Siena. The contract for the sculptured decoration of this shrine was one of those which the pressure of other work prevented the artist from ever taking seriously in hand. Of the five saints in niches, traditionally reputed to be his work, the St Peter alone shows any clear marks of his style; the other four were probably designed, and certainly carried out, by weaker hands. - " David (the " Gigante "), commissioned for the city of Florence by Piero Soderini; marble; Florence Academy. Besides what has been said above, it has only to be added that a wax model in the Casa Buonarroti, showing nearly the same design with a different movement of the legs, is probably Michelangelo's original sketch for the subject. " David," commissioned by Pierre Rohan; bronze, lost; a clay model in the National Museum, Florence, may probably be a sketch for it; more than one bronze has been brought forward with claims to be the original, but none has stood the test of criticism. " Virgin and Child," commissioned for Taddeo Taddei; circular relief, unfinished, marble; London, Royal Academy. The motive of the Christ-child frightened by the flutterings of the bird held out by St John is the most playful in all Michelangelo's work; the whole design shows the influence of Leonardo in his gentler, as much as the cartoon of the " Bathers " shows it in his more violent, moods.
" Virgin and Child with St John," commissioned by Bartolommeo Pitti; nearly circular relief, unfinished, marble; Florence, National Museum: a more tranquil and very charming presentment. " Madonna and Child," sold to the Mouscron family of Bruges (known in Italy as Moscheroni), and by them presented to the church of Notre Dame in that city; group in the round, marble; church of Notre Dame, Bruges. A meditative seated Virgin with upright head, the naked child seated between her knees, his smoothly rounded form in strong contrast with her complicated draperies. " St Matthew ": one of a set of twelve statues of Apostles commissioned by the consuls of the Arte della Lana for the cathedral at Florence; marble; National Museum, Florence. Unfinished (only roughly blocked out), the other figures of the set never having been so much as begun; the contract was signed in 1503 and cancelled in 1505. There is an early drawing by Raphael from this statue.
Painting.-" Holy Family," painted for Angelo Doni; tempera, circular: Florence, Uffizi. The only perfectly well-attested panel painting of Michelangelo which exists. His love of restless and somewhat strained actions is illustrated by the gesture of the Madonna, who kneels on the ground holding up the child on her right shoulder; his love of the nude by the introduction (wherein he follows Luca Signorelli) of some otherwise purposeless undraped figures in the background. " Virgin and Child with Four Angels "; tempera; National Gallery, London. This unfinished painting, strongly marked by the influence of Michelangelo in his work at this period, has been confidently claimed for him, but lacks his strength and mastery, and is far more probably the work of his imitator and intimate associate, Francesco Granacci. " Cartoon of the Bathers "; lost and utterly perished. The only authentic records of it are contained in a few early engravings by Marcantonio and Agostino Veneziano and a certain number of sketches and studies by the master himself, chiefly at the Albertina, Vienna, the British Museum and the University Galleries, Oxford. An elaborate drawing of many figures at Holkham Hall, well known and often engraved, seems to be a later cento destitute of real authority.
Michelangelo had not been long in Rome before Pope Julius devised fit employment for him. That capacious and headstrong spirit, on fire with great enterprises, had conceived the idea of a sepulchral monument to commemorate his glory when he should be dead, and to be executed according to his own plans while he was still living. He entrusted this congenial task to Michelangelo. The design being approved, the artist spent the winter of1505-1506at the quarries of Carrara, superintending the excavation and shipment of the necessary marbles. In the spring he returned to Rome, and when the marbles arrived fell to with all his energy at the preparations for the work. For a while the pope followed their progress eagerly, and was all kindness to the young sculptor. But presently his disposition changed. In Michelangelo's absence an artist who was no friend of his, Bramante of Urbino, had been selected by Julius to carry out a new architectural scheme, commensurate with the usual vastness of his conceptions, viz. the rebuilding of St Peter's church. To the influence and the malice of Bramante Michelangelo attributed the unwelcome invitation he now received to interrupt the great work of sculpture which he had just begun in order to decorate the Sixtine chapel with frescoes. Soon, however, schemes of war and conquest interposed to divert the thoughts of Julius, not from the progress of his own monument merely, but from artistic enterprises altogether. One day Michelangelo heard him say at table to his jeweller that he meant to spend no more money on pebbles, either small or great. To add to the artist's discomfiture, when he went to apply in person for payments due, he was first put off from day to day, and at last actually with scant courtesy dismissed. At this his dark mood got the mastery of him. Convinced that not his employment only but his life was threatened, he suddenly took horse and left Rome, and before the messengers of the pope could overtake him was safe on Florentine territory. Michelangelo's flight took place in April 1506. Once among his own people, he turned a deaf ear to all overtures made from Rome for his return, and stayed throughout the summer at Florence, how occupied we are not distinctly informed, but apparently, among other things, on the continuation of his great battle cartoon.
During the same summer Julius planned and executed the victorious military campaign which ended with his unopposed entry at the head of his army into Bologna. Thither, under strict safe-conduct and promises of renewed favour, Michelangelo was at last persuaded to betake himself. Julius received the truant artist kindly, as indeed between these two volcanic natures there existed a natural affinity, and ordered of him his own colossal likeness in bronze, to be set up, as a symbol of his conquering authority, over the principal entrance of the church of St Petronius. For the next fifteen months Michelangelo devoted his whole strength to this new task. The price at which he undertook it left him, as it turned out, hardly any margin to subsist on. Moreover in the technical art of metal casting he was inexperienced, and an assistant whom he had summoned from Florence proved insubordinate and had to be dismissed. Nevertheless his genius prevailed over every hardship and difficulty, and on the 21st of February 1508 the majestic bronze colossus of the seated pope, robed and mitred, with one hand grasping the keys and the other extended in a gesture of benediction and command, was duly raised to its station over the church porch. Three years later it was destroyed in a revolution. The people of Bologna rose against the authority of Julius; his delegates and partisans were cast out, and his effigy hurled from its place. The work of Michelangelo, after being trailed in derision through the streets, was broken up and its fragments cast into the furnace.
Meanwhile the artist himself, as soon as his work was done, had followed his reconciled master back to Rome. The task that here awaited him, however, was after all not the resumption of the papal monument, but the execution of the series of paintings in the Sixtine chapel which had been mooted before his departure. Painting, he always averred, was not his business; he was aware of his enemy's hopes that a great enterprise in fresco-painting would prove beyond his powers; and he entered with misgiving and reluctance upon his new undertaking. Destiny, however, so ruled that the work thus thrust upon him remains his chief title to glory. His history is one of indomitable will and almost superhuman energy, yet of will that hardly ever had its way, and of energy continually at war with circumstance. The only work which in all his life he was able to complete as he had conceived it was this of the decoration of the Sixtine ceiling. The pope had at first desired a scheme including figures of the twelve apostles only. Michelangelo began accordingly, but could rest content with nought so meagre, and soon proposed instead a design of many hundred figures embodying the story of Genesis from the Creation to the Flood, with accessory personages of prophets and sibyls dreaming on the new dispensation to come, and, in addition, those of the forefathers of Christ. The whole was to be enclosed and divided by an elaborate framework of painted architecture, with a multitude of nameless human shapes supporting its several members or reposing among them - shapes mediating, as it were, between the features of the inanimate framework and those of the great dramatic and prophetic scenes themselves. The pope bade the artist do as he pleased. By May 1508 the preparations in the chapel had been completed and the work begun. Later in the same year Michelangelo summoned a number of assistant painters from Florence. Trained in the traditions of the earlier Florentine school, they were unable, it seems, to interpret Michelangelo's designs in fresco either with sufficient freedom or sufficient uniformity of style to satisfy him. At any rate he soon dismissed them, and carried out the remainder of his colossal task alone, except for the necessary amount of purely mechanical and subordinate help. The physical conditions of prolonged work, face upwards, upon this vast expanse of ceiling were adverse and trying in the extreme. After four and a half years of toil the task was accomplished. Michelangelo had during its progress been harassed alike by delays of payment and by hostile intrigue, his ill-wishers casting doubts on his capacity, and vaunting the superior powers of Raphael. That gentle spirit would by nature have been no man's enemy, but unluckily Michelangelo's moody, self-concentrated temper prevented the two artists being on terms of amity such as might have stopped the mouths of mischief-makers. Absolute need of funds for the furtherance of the undertaking constrained him at one moment to break off work and pursue his inconsiderate patron as far as Bologna. This was between September 1510, by which time the whole of the great series of subjects along the centre of the vault were completed, and January is II, when the master set to work again and began filling the complicated lateral spaces of his decorative scheme.
The main field of the Sixtine ceiling - in form a depressed barrel vault - is divided in Michelangelo's scheme into four larger, alternating with five smaller fields. The following is the order of the subjects depicted in them: (1) the dividing of the light from the darkness; (2) the creation of sun, moon and stars; (3) the creation of the waters; (4) the creation of man; (5) the creation of woman; (6) the temptation and expulsion; (7) the sacrifice of Noah; (8) the deluge; (9) the drunkenness of Noah. The figures in the last three of these scenes are on a smaller scale than those in the first six. In numbers i, 3, 5, 7 and 9 the field of the picture is reduced by the encroachments of the architectural framework with its seated pairs of supporters, commonly known as " Slaves " or " Atlases." Flanking these smaller compositions, along the lateral spaces between the crown of the vault and the walls on either side, are seated figures of prophets and sibyls alternately; two other prophets are introduced at each extremity of the series - making seven prophets and five sibyls in all. In the triangles to right and left of the prophets at the two extremities are the death of Goliath, the death of Holofernes, the brazen serpent and the punishment of Haman. In the twelve lunettes above the windows are groups of the ancestors of Christ, their names designated by inscriptions, and in the twelve triangles above them (between the prophets and sibyls) other kindred groups crouched or sitting. These last are all shown in relatively simple human actions and household relations, heightened but not falsified by the artist's genius, and rising into majestic significance from roots deep in daily human nature. The work represents all the powers of Michelangelo at their best. Disdaining all the accessory allurements of the painter's art, he has concentrated himself upon the exclusive delineation of the human form and face at their highest power. His imagination has conceived, and his knowledge and certainty of hand have enabled him to realize, attitudes and combinations of unmatched variety and grandeur, and countenances of unmatched expressiveness and power. But he has not trusted, as he came later to trust, to science and acquired knowledge merely; neither do his personages, so far as they did afterwards, transcend human possibility or leave the facts of actual life behind them. The profoundest knowledge and the most searching realism serve to embody all this inspiration and sustain all this sublimity; the sublimity, moreover is combined with the noblest elements of grace and even of tenderness. As for the intellectual meanings of his vast design, over and above those which reveal themselves at a first glance or by a bare description, they are from the nature of the case inexhaustible, and can never be perfectly defined. Whatever the soul of this great Florentine, the spiritual heir of Dante, with the Christianity of the middle ages not shaken in his mind, but expanded and transcendentalized, by the knowledge and love of Plato; - whatever the soul of such a man, full of suppressed tenderness and righteous indignation, and of anxious questionings of coming fate could conceive - that Michelangelo has expressed or shadowed forth in this great and significant scheme of paintings. The powers of the artist seem to have expanded with the progress of his work. He seems to have begun (as the spectator entering the chapel has to begin) with what is chronologically the last subject of the series, the drunkenness of Noah, and to have worked backwards, increasing the scale of his figures for their better effect from the fourth subject (the Temptation and Expulsion), and rising in ascending scale of majesty through the successive acts of creation from the last to the first.
The Sixtine chapel was no sooner completed than Michelangelo resumed work upon the marbles for the monument of Julius. But four months only had passed when Julius died. His heirs immediately entered (in the summer of 1513) into a new contract with Michelangelo for the execution of the monument on a reduced scale. What the precise nature and extent of the original design had been we do not know, only that the monument was to be detached from the wall, and to stand four-square and free - a thing hitherto unknown in Renaissance sepulchral architecture - in one of the chapels of St. Peter's. But the new design was extensive and magnificent enough. It was to consist of a great three-sided structure, two courses high, projecting from the church wall, and decorated on its three unattached sides with statues. On the upper course was to be placed the colossal recumbent figures of the pope, with a vision of the Virgin and Child above him, angels mourning at the sides, and prophetic and allegoric personages at the angles - sixteen figures in all. The lower course was to be enriched with twentyfour figures in niches and on projecting pedestals: in the niches, Victories; in front of terminal pilasters between them, slaves or captives denoting, it would seem, either conquered provinces or arts and sciences in bondage after their patron's death. A much injured and not indisputable sketch by the master at Berlin, with a copy of the same by Sacchetti, are supposed to show the design at this stage of its reduction. The entire work was to be completed in nine years' time. During the next three years, it would seem, Michelangelo brought to ompletion three at least of the promised figures, for which the blocks had reached Rome from Carrara as early as July 1508; and they are among the most famous of all existing works of the sculptor's art - namely, the " Moses," now in the church of S. Pietro in Vincoli at Rome and the two " Slaves " at the Louvre.
The " Moses," originally intended for one of the angles of the upper course, is now placed at the level of the eye, in the centre of the principal face of the monument as it was at last finished, on a deplorably reduced and altered scale, by Michelangelo and his assistants in his old age. The prophet, supposed to have just come down from Mount Sinai and found the Israelites worshipping the golden calf, sits, heavily bearded and draped, with only his right arm bare, his left foot drawn back, his head raised and turned to the left, his left hand laid on his lap and his right grasping the tables of the law - an incarnation of majestic indignation and menace. The work, except in one or two places, is of the utmost finish, and the statue looks like one of the prophets of the Sixtine ceiling done in marble. The " Slaves " at the Louvre are youthful male figures of equally perfect execution, nude but for the band which passes over the breast of one and the right leg of the other. One, with his left hand raised to his head and his right pressed to his bosom, his eyes almost closed, seems succumbing to the agonies of death; the other, with his arms bound behind his back, looks upward still hopelessly struggling. All three of these figures were finished between 1513 and 1516.
By 1516 Michelangelo's evil star was again in the ascendant. Julius II. had been succeeded on the papal throne by Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici under the title of Leo X. The Medici, too, had about the same time by force and fraud re-established their sway in Florence, overthrowing the free institutions that had prevailed there since the days of Savonarola. Now, on the one hand, this family were the hereditary friends and patrons of Michelangelo; on the other hand he was a patriotic son of republican Florence; so that henceforward his personal allegiance and his political sympathies were in conflict. Over much of his art, as has been thought, the pain and perplexity of this conflict have cast their shadow. For the present the consequence to him of the rise to power of the Medici was a fresh interruption of his cherished work on the tomb of Julius. Leo X. and his kinsmen were full of a vast new scheme for the enrichment and adornment of the facade of their own family church of San Lorenzo in Florence. Michelangelo, carried away by the idea and forgetful of his other still great and onerous task, offered his services for the new facade. They were eagerly accepted, although for a moment the idea had been entertained of entrusting the work to Leonardo da Vinci. The heirs of Julius on their part showed an accommodating temper, and at the request of Leo allowed their three-years'-old contract to be cancelled in favour of another, whereby the scale and sculptured decorations of the Julian monument were again to be reduced by nearly a half. Michelangelo soon produced for the San Lorenzo facade a design of combined sculpture and architecture as splendid and ambitious in its way as had been that for the original monument of Julius. The contract was signed in January 1518, and the artist went to Carrara to superintend the excavation of the marbles.
Michelangelo was now in his forty-fourth year. Though half his life was yet to come, yet its best days had, as it proved, been spent. All the hindrances which he had encountered hitherto were as nothing to those which began to beset him now. For the supply of materials for the facade of San Lorenzo he had set a firm of masons to work, and had himself, it seems, entered into a kind of partnership with them, at Carrara, where he knew the quarries well, and where the industry was hereditary and well understood. When all was well in progress there under his own eye, reasons of state induced the Medici and the Florentine magistracy to bid him resort instead to certain new quarries at Pietrasanta, near Serravalle in the territory of Florence. Hither, to the disgust of his old clients at Carrara and to his own, Michelangelo accordingly had to transfer the scene of his labours. Presently he found himself so impeded and enraged by the mechanical difficulties of raising and transporting the marbles, and by the disloyalty and incompetence of those with whom he had to deal, that he was fain to throw up the commission altogether. The contracts for the facade of San Lorenzo were rescinded in March 1518, and the whole magnificent scheme came to nothing. Michelangelo then returned to Florence, where proposals of work poured in on him from many quarters. The king of France desired something from his hand to place beside the two pictures he possessed by Raphael. The authorities of Bologna wanted him to design a facade for their church of St Petronius; those of Genoa to cast a statue in bronze of their great commander, Andrea Doria. Cardinal Grimani begged hard for any picture or statue he might have to spare; other amateurs importuned him for so much as a pencil drawing or sketch. Lastly his friend and partisan Sebastian del Piombo at Rome, ever eager to keep up the feud between the followers of Michelangelo and those of Raphael, besought him on Raphael's death to return at once to Rome, and take out of the hands of the dead master's pupils the work of painting still remaining to be done in the Vatican chambers. Michelangelo complied with none of these requests. All that we certainly know of his doing between 1518 and 1522 is the blocking out in the rough of four more of the " Slaves " for the tomb of Julius, and carrying out a commission, which he had received from three citizens of Rome as early as 1514, for a statue of the risen Christ. The roughed-out " Slaves " now stand immured in a grotto in the Boboli Gardens, Florence; the Christ, practically finished by the master but. with the last touches added by pupils, stands in the church, for which it was destined, of Sta Maria sopra Minerva at Rome; there is little in it either of devotional spirit or imaginative power, although, in those parts which Michelangelo himself finished, there is extreme accomplishment of design and workmanship.
The next twelve years of Michelangelo's life (1522-1534) were spent at Florence, and again employed principally in the service of his capricious and uncongenial patrons - the Medici. The plan of a great group of monuments to deceased members of this family, to be set up in a new sacristy or mortuary chapel in San Lorenzo, was first broached to Michelangelo in 1520 by Cardinal Giulio de' Medici. No practical impulse, however,. was given to the work until Giulio, after the death of Leo 'X. and the brief pontificate of the puritanical and iconoclastic Adrian VI., had in his turn become pope in 1523 under the title of Clement VII. Even then the impulse was a wavering one. First Clement proposed to associate another artist, Sansovino, with Michelangelo in his task. This proposal being on Michelangelo's peremptory demand abandoned, Clement next distracted the artist with an order for a new architectural. design - that, namely, for the proposed Medicean or " Laurentian " library. When at last after many changes of scope and scheme the plans for the sepulchral chapel or " Sagrestia nuova " took shape, they did not include, as had been at first intended, memorials to the founders of the house's greatness, Cosimo (pater patriae) and Lorenzo the Magnificent, or even to Pope Leo X. himself, but only to two younger members of the house lately deceased, Giuliano, duke of Nemours, and Lorenzo, duke of Urbino. Michelangelo brooded long over various. designs for this work, and was still engaged on its execution - his time being partly also taken up by the building-plans for the Medicean library - when political revolutions interposed to divert his industry. In 1527 came to pass the sack of Rome by the Austrians, and the apparently irretrievable ,ruin of Pope Clement. The Florentines seized the occasion to expel the Medici from their city, and set up a free republican government once more. Naturally no more funds for the works in San Lorenzo were forthcoming, and Michelangelo, on the invitation of the new signory, occupied himself for a while with designs. for a group of Hercules and Cacus, and another of Samson.
and the Philistines - the latter to be wrought out of a block of marble which had been rough-hewn already for another purpose by Baccio Bandinelli. Soon, however, he was called to help in defending the city itself from danger. Clement and his enemy Charles V. having become reconciled, both alike were now bent on bringing Florence again under the rule of the Medici. In view of the approaching siege, Michelangelo was appointed engineer-in-chief of the fortifications. He spent the early summer of 1529 in strengthening the defences of San Miniato; from July to September he was absent on a diplomatic mission to Ferrara and Venice. Returning in the middle of the latter month, he found the cause of Florence hopeless from internal treachery and from the overwhelming strength of her enemies. One of his dark seizures overcame him, and he departed again suddenly for Venice. There for a while he remained, negotiating for a future residence in France. Then, while the siege was still in progress, he returned once more to Florence; but in the final death-struggle of her liberties he bore no part. When in 1530 the city submitted to her conquerors, no mercy was shown to most of those who had taken part in her defence. Michelangelo believed himself in danger with the rest, but on the intervention of Baccio Valori he was presently taken back into favour and employment by Pope Clement. For four years more he continued to work at intervals on the completion of the Medici monuments, with the help from 1532 of Giovanni Montorsoli and other pupils, and on the building of the Laurentian library. In 1531 he suffered a severe illness; in 1532 he made a long stay at Rome, and entered upon yet another contract for the completion of the Julian monument, to be reduced now to a still more shrunken scale and to be placed not in St Peter's but in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli. In the autumn of 1 534 he left Florence for good. What remained to be done in the Medici chapel was done by pupils, and the chapel was not finally opened to view until 1545.
The statues of the Medici monument take rank beside the " Moses" and the " Slaves " as the finest work of Michelangelo's central time in sculpture. They consist of a Madonna and Child and of the two famous monumental groups, each composed of an armed and seated portrait-statue in a niche, with two emblematic figures reclining .on each side of a sarcophagus below. The " Madonna and Child " (left unfinished because the marble was short in bulk) combines astonishingly the divers qualities of realistic motive and natural animation with learned complexity of design and imposing majesty of effect. It was set up finally - not at all in accordance with the artist's first intention - against a blank wall of the chapel, and flanked at wide intervals by statues of Sts Cosmo and Damian, the work of pupils. The portraits are treated not realistically but typically. In that of Lorenzo seems to be typified the mood of crafty brooding and concentrated inward thought; in that of Giuliano, the type of alert and confident practical survey immediately preceding action. To this contrast of the meditative and active characters corresponds a contrast in the emblematic groups accompanying the portraits. At the feet of the duke Giuliano recline the shapes of " Night " and " Day " - the former a female, the latter a male, personification; the former sunk in an attitude of deep but uneasy slumber, the latter (whose head and face are merely blocked out of the marble) lifting himself in one of wrathful and disturbed awakening. But for Michelangelo's unfailing grandeur of style, and for the sense which his works convey of a compulsive heat and tempest of thought and feeling in the spirit that thus conceived them, both these attitudes might be charged with extravagance. As grand, but far less violent, are those of the two companion figures that recline between sleep and waking on the sarcophagus of the pensive Lorenzo. Of these, the male figure is known as " Evening," the female as " Morning" (Crepusculo and Aurora). In Michelangelo's original idea, partly founded on antique precedent in pedimental and sarcophagus groups, figures of " Earth " and " Heaven " were to be associated with those of " Night " and " Day " on the monument of Giuliano, and others - no doubt of a corresponding nature, with those of the Morning and Evening Twilight on that of Lorenzo. These figures afterwards fell out of the scheme and the recesses designed for them remain empty. Michelangelo's obvious and fundamental idea was, as some words of his own record, to exhibit the elements and the powers of earth and heaven lamenting the death of the princes. River-gods were to recline on the broad bases at the foot of the monuments. These too are lacking. They were never finished, but a bronze cast from a small model of one of them, and the torso of a large model, have lately been identified, the former in the National Museum and the latter in the Academy at Florence.
" Victory " marble (National Museum, Florence). A youthful conqueror standing over a bearded enemy, whose shoulders he crushes down with his left knee. Fine and finished work: whether intended for one of the emblematic Victories of the Julian monument, or having some connexion with the " Hercules and Cacus " and " Samson and the Philistine," subjects undertaken for the Signory in 1528, must remain uncertain. For the former of these two subjects a wax model at the Victoria and Albert Museum, for the latter a plaster model at the Casa Buonarroti, are claimed, perhaps rightly, as original. " David " (formerly called " Apollo "), marble, unfinished (National Museum, Florence). Both the authenticity and the approximate date of this fine work are beyond doubt: of its origin and destination we are uninformed. " Crouching boy," marble, unfinished (the Hermitage, Petersburg). Another masterly sketch in marble; the seated lad stoops forward between his parted knees, having both hands occupied with his left foot; the figure blocked out of the marble, with the least possible sacrifice of the material; the subject and motive enigmatical. " Cupid," kneeling, apparently in the act of shooting downward with a bow, marble (Victoria and Albert Museum). Probably, but not quite certainly, authentic; if so, then of 1530 or thereabouts; its identification with the early Cupid done for Jacopo Galli at Rome in 1496 is untenable. " Leda," painting, done for the duke of Ferrara, but withheld because of the misconduct of his messenger, and given by the master to his pupil Antonio Mini in 1531; lost. A fine injured tempera painting of the subject in the store-rooms of the National Gallery in London may presumably be an early copy.
Michelangelo had fully purposed, as soon as he could get free of his task on the Medici tombs, to devote all his powers to the completion of the Julian monument in accordance with the new contract of 1532. But his intention was again frustrated. Pope Clement insisted that he must complete his decorations of the Sixtine Chapel by painting anew the great end wall above the altar, adorned until then by frescoes of Perugino. The subject chosen was the Last Judgment; and Michelangelo began to prepare sketches. In the autumn of 1534, in his sixtieth year, he settled finally, and for the remainder of his life, at Rome. Immediately afterwards Clement died, and was succeeded by a Farnese under the title of Paul III. Even more than his predecessor, Paul insisted on claiming the main services of Michelangelo for himself, and forced him to let all other engagements drift. For the first seven years after the artist's return to Rome, his time was principally taken up with the painting of the colossal and multitudinous " Last Judgment." This being completed in 1541, he was next compelled to undertake two more great frescoes - one of the Conversion of Paul and another of the Martyrdom of Peter - in a new chapel which the pope had caused to be built in the Vatican, and named after himself - Capella Paolina.
The fresco of the " Last Judgment " in the Sixtine Chapel is probably the most famous single picture in the world. In it Michelangelo shows more than ever the omnipotence of his artistic science, and the fiery daring of his conceptions. But the work, so far as its deplorably deteriorated condition admits comparison, is hardly comparable in the qualities of colour and decorative effect to the earlier and far more nobly inspired frescoes of the ceiling. It is to these and not to the " Last Judgment " that the student must turn if he would realize what is best and greatest in the art of Michelangelo.
The frescoes of the Pauline Chapel are on their part so injured as to be hardly susceptible of useful study or criticism. In their ruined state they bear evidence of the same tendencies that made the art of Michelangelo in its latest phase so dangerous an example to weaker men - the tendency, that is, to seek for unqualified energy and violence of action, both in place and out, for " terribleness " quand and to design actions not by help of direct study from nature, but by scientific deduction from the abstract laws of structure and movement. At best these frescoes can never have been happy examples of Michelangelo's art.
Other Work of the years 1534-1549. Sculpture. - During the fifteen years when Michelangelo was mainly engaged on these paintings, he had also at last been enabled to acquit himself, although in a manner that can have been satisfactory to none concerned, of his engagements to the heirs of Julius. Once more the influence of the pope had prevailed on them to accept a compromise altogether to their disadvantage. By a final contrast dated 1542, it was agreed that the " Moses " executed thirty years before, seated on a low plinth in a central recess, should be the chief figure of the new scheme; in niches at either side of him were to be standing figures of " Leah " and " Rachel." These Michelangelo himself executed hastily with the help of assistants. To pupils entirely was left the carrying out of the upper cornice, with the recumbent effigy of the pope occupying the centre of a weak and incongruous architectural scheme, a Madonna and Child in a niche above, and a prophet and a sibyl in recesses at either side. Meantime all idea of incorporating any of the " Slaves " in the new design had been abandoned. The master gave the two that had been finished in1513-1516to Robert Strozzi, who gave them to Francis I.; while the four that had been roughed out between 1518 and 1522 remained at Florence. " Brutus," marble (National Museum, Florence). Probably executed soon after 1539, in memory of the tyrannicide Lorenzino de' Medici. To the end of this period or to a year or two later belongs the infinitely pathetic unfinished sketch in marble of a life-size " Pieta" (Palazzo Rondini, Rome) - the mourning mother, standing on an elevation behind her son, holds his body upright in front of her by the shoulders. Still later, after 1550, is the more complicated and more finished group of the " Pieta," with the corpse of Christ collapsing in utter relaxation through the arms of those who try to uphold it: this Michelangelo destined for his own sepulchre; it stands now in the cathedral at Florence.
Painting.-" The Entombment of Christ " (National Gallery, London). This unfinished painting bears all the marks of Michelangelo's design, and must have been begun from a cartoon by him, probably of about 1535-1540. The touch of his own hand seems evident in some parts, particularly the body of Christ; other parts, in various degrees of incompletion, are apparently the work of various pupils or imitators.
For nearly all his great life-works mentioned above, preparatory sketches and studies by the master's hand exist. These, with a large number of other drawings, finished and unfinished, done for their own sakes and not for any ulterior use, are of infinite value and interest to the student. Michelangelo was the most learned and scientific as well as the most inspired and daring of draughtsmen, and from boyhood to extreme old age never ceased to practise with pen, chalk or pencil. He is said to have burned vast numbers of his drawings with his own hand and caused others to be burned by friends and pupils to whom he had given them; so that what we possess must be less than a tithe of what he executed. But there are some 250 genuine sheets - enough to let us follow and understand his modes of conceiving, preparing and maturing his designs at all periods of his life. They are scattered amongst various collections, chiefly public; those in England (at the British Museum, the University Galleries, Oxford, and the Royal Library, Windsor), are quite half the whole number; other important examples remain still at what was for centuries the home of his heirs, the Casa Buonarroti at Florence; others at the Uffizi, Florence; the Venice Academy; the Albertina, Vienna; the Louvre; the Conde Museum at Chantilly; the Berlin Museum; and, not least, the Teyler Museum at Haarlem. By means of these drawings and the many published facsimiles we are best able to trace the progress of the master's genius and its secrets. We see him diligently copying in youth from the frescoes of Giotto, Masaccio, and his own master Ghirlandaio. At this date his instrument was the pen only, used in a manner of hatching: sometimes extremely careful and close, at others fiercely bold and free, and in either case all his own. Sketches and studies thus drawn with the pen exist for the " David," the " Bathers Surprised," the accessory figures for the tomb of Julius as first conceived, and the great series of the Sixtine Chapel decorations. By, or even before, the date of the Sixtine Chapel, chalk, red or black, comes into use along with the pen, and many of the finest studies for the " Slaves " or " Atlases " and other decorative figures of the ceiling are in the latter material (many more studies are preserved for these subordinate figures than for the main compositions). After the Sixtine Chapel period the pen gives way to red or black chalk almost entirely. Sketches are rare for the great abortive scheme of the Julius monument; almost non-existent for the equally abortive San Lorenzo facade; fairly abundant for the various stages of the Medici monument scheme in its architectural parts, but not for the great figures. About the time of Michelangelo's final change of domicile from Florence to Rome (1532-1535) he began the practice of making highly finished and fully shaded drawings of classic or symbolic subjects in red or black chalk for presentation to his friends, especially to young Tommaso Cavalieri, the object of his passionate Platonic affection, from about 1532. The " Fall of Phaeton," the " Tityos," the " Ganymede," the " Men shooting at a Mark," are well-known examples; in this class of work the Windsor collection is far the richest. At the same time or soon afterwards, were produced drawings little less powerful and finished of Christian subjects, especially the " Crucifixion," " Entombment " and " Resurrection." Then comes the great fresco of the " Last Judgment," for which there exist both general sketches and particular studies. In the few extant drawings for the Cappella Paolina a faltering both of the imagination and of the hand become discernible. To the same or to still later years belong many beautiful but somewhat tentative drawings done either directly for, or nearly in the spirit of, the famous " Crucifixion " which he is recorded to have painted with so much devotion for Vittoria Colonna. About many of these, for all their intensity of feeling, there is a wavering touch betraying the approach of infirmity; so there is about many of the architectural studies done for the buildings of which he had charge in his last years at Rome; but signs of the old impressive power and penetration are not wanting in some even of the latest drawings that have come down to us.
During his later years the long-pent human elements of fervour and tenderness in Michelangelo's nature had found vent and utterance such as they had never found before. He had occasionally practised poetry in youth, and there are signs of some transient love-passages during his life at Bologna. But it was not until towards his sixtieth year that the springs of feeling were fairly opened in the heart of this solitary, this masterful and stern, life-wearied and labour-hardened man. About1533-1534we find him beginning to address impassioned sonnets - of which the sentiment is curiously comparable to that expressed in some of Shakespeare's - to a beautiful and gifted youth, the young Roman noble Tommaso Cavalieri. Soon afterwards he made the acquaintance of the pious, accomplished, and high-souled lady, Vittoria Colonna, widow of the Marquess Pescara. For ten years until her death, which happened in 1547, her friendship was the great solace of Michelangelo's life. On her, in all loyalty and reverence, he poured out all the treasures of his mind and all his imprisoned powers of tenderness and devotion. She was the chief inspirer of his poetry - of which, along with her praises, the main themes are the Christian religion, the joys of Platonic love, and the power and mysteries of art. Michelangelo's poetical style is strenuous and concentrated like the man. He wrote with labour and much self-correction; we seem to feel him flinging himself on the material of language with the same overwhelming energy and vehemence with which contemporaries describe him as flinging himself on the material of marble - the same impetuosity of temperament combined with the same fierce desire of perfection, but with far less either of innate instinct for the material or of trained mastery over its difficulties.
And so the mighty sculptor, painter, and poet reached old age. An infirmity which settled on him in 1544, and the death of Vittoria Colonna in 1547, left him broken in health and heart. But his strength held on for many a year longer yet. His father and brothers were dead, and his family sentiment concentrated itself on a nephew, Leonardo, to whom he showed unremitting practical kindness, coupled with his usual suspiciousness and fitfulness of temper. In almost all his relations the old man continued to the end to manifest the same loyal and righteous heart, accompanied by the same masterful, moody, and estranging temper, as in youth. Among the artists of the younger generation he held a position of absolute ascendancy and authority; nor was his example, as we have said, by any means altogether salutary for them. To artists, and to a certain number of chosen friends, belonging chiefly to the lettered, diplomatic, and secretarial classes, he was more accessible and affable than he had been to any one in earlier days, though still formidable in moods of scorn and scoffing. His great age and fame made him the most honoured citizen of Rome, to whom the highest, both of his fellow countrymen and foreigners, were eager to do homage. During the last years of his life he made but few more essays in sculpture, and those not successful, but was much employed in the fourth art in which he excelled - that of architecture. A succession of popes demanded his services for the embellishment of Rome. Between 1536 and 1546 he was engaged on plans for the rearrangement and reconstruction of the great group of buildings on the Capitol - plans which were only partially and imperfectly carried out during his lifetime and after his death. For Paul III. he finished the palace called after the name of the pope's family the Farnese. On the death of Antonio da San Gallo he succeeded to the onerous and coveted office of chief architect of St Peter's church, for which he remodelled all the designs, living to see some of the main features, including the supports and lower portion of the great central dome, carried out in spite of all obstacles, according to his plans. The dome as it stands is his most conspicuous and one of his noblest monuments: the body of the church was completed in a manner quite different from his devising. Other great architectural tasks on which he was engaged were the reconstruction of the Porta Pia, and the conversion of a portion of the baths of Diocletian into the church of Sta Maria degli Angeli; the great cloister with its hundred columns, now used as the Museo delle Terme, is the only part of this reconstruction which remains as he designed it. At length, in the midst of these vast schemes and responsibilities, the heroic old man's last remains of strength gave way. He died on the threshold of his ninetieth year, on the 18th of February 1564.
- For the earlier bibliography of Michelangelo, which is extensive, see the useful though very imperfect compilation of Passerini, Bibliografia di Michelangelo Buonarroti, &c. (Florence, 1875). The most important works, taken in chronological order, are the following: P. Giovio, supplement to the fragmentary Dialogus de viris litteris illustribus, written soon after 1527, first published by Tiraboschi, Storia della letteratura italiana (Modena, 1871); G. Vasari, in Vite degli piu eccellenti architettori, pittori, e scultori, &c. (Florence, 1550); A. Condivi, Vita di Michelangelo Buonarroti (1553); this account, for which the author, a pupil and friend of the master's, had long been collecting materials, was much fuller than that of Vasari, who made use of it in rewriting his own life of Michelangelo for his second edition, which appeared after the master's death (1568). The best edition of Vasari is that by Milanesi (Florence 1878-1883); of Condivi, that by Gori and Mariette (Pisa, 1746); for English readers there is a useful translation with notes, by Sir Charles Holroyd. The first additions of importance were published by Bottari, Raccolta di lettere sull y pittura, &c. (Rome, 1754; 2nd ed. by Ticozzi, Milan, 1822); the next by Gaye, Carteggio inedito (1840). Portions of the correspondence preserved in the Buonarroti archives were published by Guasti in his notes to the Rime di Michelangelo Buonarroti (1863), and by Daelli in Carte Michelangelsche inedite (Milan, 1865). Complete biographies of Michelangelo had been meanwhile attempted by J. Harford (London, 1857), and with more power by Hermann Grimm, Leben Michelangelos (Hanover, 5th ed., 1879). A great increment of biographical material was at length obtained by the publication, in the fourhundredth year after Michelangelo's birth, of the whole body of his letters preserved in the Buonarroti archives, Lettere di Michelangelo Buonarroti, ed. G. Milanesi (Florence, 1875). This material was first employed in a connected but too trivial narrative by A. Gotti, Vita di Michelangelo (Florence, 1875). Next followed C. Heath Wilson, Life and Works of Michelangelo Buonarroti (Florence, 1876), the technical remarks in which, especially as concerns the fresco paintings, are still valuable. Other lives of Michelangelo are by Anton Springer, in his Michelangelo u. Raphael (Leipzig, 1883); J. A. Symonds, The Life of Michelangelo (London, 1893), full of valuable matter on the history and spirit of Michelangelo's times, but not trustworthy in the criticism of his works; H. Mackowksy, Michelagniolo (Berlin, 1908), excellent in all respects, and in moderate compass; Emile Gebhardt, Michel-Ange, sculpteur et peintre (1808) is a handsome volume of reproductions with text. Michelangelo, by Fritz Knapp, in the Klassiker der Kunst series (Stuttgart, 1906) is a very useful compendium. For the early works of Michelangelo the standard authority is H. Wolfflin, Die Jugendwerke Michelangelos (Munich, 1891, and later editions), a masterly work, though at variance with Berlin official opinion. The most elaborate study of the Sixtine frescoes, magnificently illustrated, is by E. Steinmann, Die Sixtinische Kapelle, vol. ii. (Munich, 1905). Consult also C. Justi, Michelangelo (Leipzig, 1903), and with caution H. Thode, Michelangelo u. das Ende der Renaissance (Berlin, 1902-1903). Of the poems of Michelangelo the first sound edition is that already referred to, G. Guasti, Rime di Michelangelo Buonarroti (1863); in earlier editions the text had been recklessly tampered with, and the rugged individuality of the master's style smoothed down. An edition with German translations was published by Hasenclever (Leipzig, 1875); and a thorough critical edition by Karl Frey (Berlin, 1897); for the English student the translations by J. A. Symonds, in Sonnets of Michelangelo and Campanella (London, 1878) are invaluable. On the drawings of Michelangelo see especially B. Berenson, The Drawings of Florentine Painters (London, 1903). A comprehensive work on the same subject, in which the most important examples are reproduced and discussed, unfortunately not arranged chronologically, is Karl Frey, Die Zeichnungen Michelangelos (Berlin, 1908 seq.), still in progress. An elaborate life by the same author (Karl Frey, Michelagniolo Buonarroti, sein Leben and seine Werke) is also in progress, but is more to be prized for documentary fullness and accuracy than for critical insight.
|File:Michelango Portrait by|
|Chalk portrait of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra|
|Birth name||Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni|
|Born|| 6 March 1475|
near Arezzo, in Caprese, Tuscany
|Died|| 18 February 1564 (aged 88)|
|Field||sculpture, painting, architecture, and poetry|
|Training||Apprentice to Ghirlandaio |
|Works||David, The Creation of Adam, Pieta|
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer. Along with Leonardo da Vinci, he is often called a "Renaissance man" which means that he had great talent in many areas.
Michelangelo lived an extremely busy life, creating a great number of artworks. Some of Michelangelo's works are among the most famous that have ever been made. They include two very famous marble statues, the Pieta in Saint Peter's Basilica and David which once stood in a piazza in Florence but is now in the Accademia Gallery. His most famous paintings are huge frescos, the Sistine Chapel Ceiling and the Last Judgement. His most famous work of architecture is the east end and dome of Saint Peter's Basilica.
A lot is known about Michelangelo's life because he left many letters, poems and journals. Because he was so famous, he became the very first artist to have his biography (story of his life) published while he was still living. His biographer, Giorgio Vasari, said that he was the greatest artist of the Renaissance. He was sometimes called Il Divino ("the divine one"). Other artists said that he had terribilità, (his works were so grand and full of strong emotion that they were scary). Many other artists who saw his work tried to have the same emotional quality. From this idea of terribilità came a style of art called Mannerism.
Michelangelo was born on 6 March 1475 in Caprese near Arezzo, Tuscany. His father was Lodovico di Leonardo di Buonarroti di Simoni, and his mother was Francesca di Neri del Miniato di Siena. The Buonarrottis were a banking family from Florence. They claimed they were descended from the noble Countess Matilda of Canossa. Michelangelo's father had lost most of the bank’s money, so he worked for the local government in the town of Chiusi. When Michelangelo was a baby, the family moved back to Florence. Because he was sickly, Michelangelo was sent to live on a small farm with a stonecutter and his wife and family. The stonecutter worked at a marble quarry owned by Michelangelo's father. Many years later Michelangelo said that the two things that had helped him to be a good artist were being born in the gentle countryside of Arezzo and being raised in a house where, along with his nurse's milk, he was given the training to use a chisel and hammer. His mother died when he was only seven.
Michelangelo’s father then brought him back to Florence and sent him to study with a tutor, Francesco da Urbino. Michelangelo was not interested in his school lessons. He explored the great churches of the city, and drew copies of the frescos that he saw there. When he was thirteen, He was apprenticed to the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio. Ghirlandaio had a large busy studio. He had wealthy patrons who worked for the Medici. He painted frescos in their family chapels. Michelangelo was able to learn the art of fresco painting very well, from Ghirlandaio. In a large workshop such as Ghirlandaio’s, artists would have been working in all sorts of different media, including sculpture, metalwork and painting altarpieces. Michelangelo would have learnt about all these things. When Michelangelo was only fourteen, his father persuaded Ghirlandaio to pay his apprentice as an artist, which was highly unusual at the time.
The richest, most powerful family in Florence were the Medici. They had an academy where some of the most famous philosophers, poets, and artists met to share their ideas. The Medici family were important patrons of the arts. In 1489, Lorenzo de' Medici, the head of the family, asked Ghirlandaio to send his two best pupils to the academy. Michelangelo was one of the students chosen and he attended the academy from 1490 to 1492. He heard the teaching and discussion of Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola and Angelo Poliziano. The philosophy that they taught was called Humanism. It was based on the philosophy of the ancient Greek Plato. Michelangelo’s ideas and his art were influenced by these teachings.
Michelangelo and another young sculptor called Pietro Torrigiano studied sculpture under Bertoldo di Giovanni. Michelangelo had an argument with Torrigiano, who punched him on the nose so that it was badly broken and spoilt his appearance for the rest of his life. Michelangelo sculpted some reliefs (flat panels with raised figures on them). One was ‘’the Battle of the Centaurs’’ which was made for Lorenzo de Medici.
In 1492, Michelangelo’s patron, Lorenzo de' Medici died. This brought about a big change in Michelangelo’s life. He went back to live at his father’s house. Michelangelo asked the prior at the Church of Santo Spirito to allow him to study the anatomy of the bodies of people who had died at the church’s hospital. In 1493, as a “thank-you” gift to the prior, Michelangelo carved a large wooden Crucifix which still hangs in the church. In January 1494, there were very heavy snowfalls. Lorenzo de’ Medici’s son, Piero de Medici commissioned Michelangelo to make a snow statue. So Michelangelo began to work for the Medici again.
In 1494, a new leader rose up in Florence. He was a Dominican friar called Savonarola. His strong preaching caused people to burn their books, throw away their jewellery and chase the wealthy families out of the city. The Medici had to go. For Michelangelo, it was a good time to travel. He stayed for a while in Venice, then moved to Bologna. In Bologna he soon got work sculpting three figures for the big marble Shrine of Saint Dominic. When things calmed down in Florence, Michelangelo returned and worked for another member of the Medici family, Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici.
Michelangelo made a marble statue of Cupid asleep. Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco told Michelangelo that it looked just like a real Ancient Roman statue and said that if he made it dirty and knocked a few chips off, someone would pay a lot of money for it. Lorenzo sold it to a Cardinal who discovered that it was a fraud. He thought that Michelangelo’s work was so good that he told the pope about it. The pope then invited Michelangelo to go to Rome and work for him.
Michelangelo arrived in Rome 25 June 1496 at the age of 21. He lived near the church of Santa Maria di Loreto on the Gianicolo hill.
In 1496 he got an important “commission” (he was given a paid job) from Cardinal Raffaele Riario. The Cardinal wanted Michelangelo to make a marble statue, larger than life-size, of Bacchus, the Ancient Roman God of wine. Michelangelo worked hard at the statue. He carved Bacchus as a young man who was quite drunk, and looked as if he was staggering as he raised his cup to make a toast. The cardinal did not like the drunken Bacchus and would not pay for it. A banker called Jacopo Galli bought it for his garden.
Michelangelo’s next important commission was from the French Ambassador who asked him to make a statue of the Virgin Mary mourning over the dead body of her son Jesus. This type of artwork, either a painting or a statue, is called by the Italian name “Pieta” (say: “Pe-ay-ta”). Michelangelo’s Pieta is the most famous Pieta that has ever been made. It is now in Saint Peter's Basilica and is visited by thousands of people every day. Giorgio Vasari wrote: "It is a miracle that a shapeless block of stone could have been carved away to make something so perfect that even nature could hardly have made it better, using real human flesh."
In 1499 Michelangelo returned to Florence. The priest Savonarola had made so many people angry that he had been put to death in 1498. Life in Florence started to return to normal. Many years earlier the Guild of Woolworkers had commissioned some artists to make statues of the heroes of the city. A sculptor called Agostino di Duccio had started carving a huge statue of David, the hero of the Bible story of David and Goliath. For 40 years the Guild of Woolworkers owned the huge block of marble, with the statue hardly begun. In 1501 they commissioned the young Michelangelo to carve it. It took him three years to complete.
Once again Michelangelo made a statue that became world-famous. The statue shows a young man, naked in the way that statues of ancient gods were made, just pausing for a moment and looking with fierce eyes at the huge soldier Goliath that he is about to kill. The statue is 5.17 meter (17 ft) tall. It was placed in the piazza (public square) outside the Palazzo Vecchio where the town council met. After many years, the statue was put into an art gallery, the Accademia. A copy now stands in the piazza.
In 1505 Michelangelo was invited to Rome by the newly elected Pope Julius II. Pope Julius was an old man. He wanted Michelangelo to design a grand tomb. It was to stand inside a church and have many carved figures which were to include several slaves to hold up part of the tomb and Old Testament prophets to sit in niches (openings in the walls). Michelangelo started work. He made a magnificent statue of Moses which is now in the Church of S. Pietro in Vincoli (St Peter in Chains) in Rome. Many people go to look at this statue. The slaves were only partly carved. Four of them are now in the Accademia in Florence. The rest of the great plan was unfinished.
The main reason that Pope Julius' tomb was not finished was that the Pope had an idea for another artwork. The Sistine Chapel near St. Peter's Basilica had its walls painted by some famous artists from Florence. The Pope decided that Michelangelo should paint the ceiling. Michelangelo did not want to. He said that he was not a painter. But the Pope bullied Michelangelo until he agreed to do it. He told the Pope that he would do it "for God" and that he would only do it if the Pope let him paint it "in his own way".
The chapel was long and wide. Its curved ceiling was held up by twelve fan-shaped pieces of wall called "pendentives". Pope Julius told Michelangelo to paint one of the twelve apostles of Jesus on each pendentive. Michelangelo started to do this. Then he got a different idea and scraped off the work that he had done. Instead of apostles he painted twelve prophets. Seven of them were men from the Old Testament but the other five were women and did not come from the Bible. They were five prophets from the Classical world. Like the prophets in the Bible, they had all told people about the birth of Jesus.
On the middle of the ceiling, instead of painting a starry sky, Michelangelo painted scenes from the Bible telling the story of Creation and the downfall of humanity. The most famous scene is the picture of God creating Adam. The ceiling was so famous that many artists tried to copy the way that Michelangelo had arranged and painted the figures.
In 1513 Pope Julius II died. The next pope was Pope Leo X, a member of the Medici family. He gave Michelangelo several jobs in Florence, including designing a chapel to hold the tombs of his family members. Although not all the tombs were built, Michelangelo finished seven large statues.
In 1527, the people of Florence became angry at the Medici for acting like princes. That was not the right way for a family to act, in a city that was a republic. The people threw the Medici out, but the Medici came back with an army and took over the city. Michelangelo was so upset at the behaviour of the Medici that he left his beloved city and never went back.
Michelangelo designed the Medici Chapel and in fact used his own discretion to create its composition. The Medici Chapel has monuments in it dedicated to certain members of the Medici family. Michelangelo never finished the project, so his pupils later completed it. Four male and three females statues made by Michelangelo. Well known researcher and Ex-Minister of Culture of Italy Antonio Paolucci wrote that visitor of the Chapel hypnotized by the great statues, which, within the total concept of the Sacristy, symbolize the heroic struggle between Temporal and Eternal. Lorenzo the Magnificent was buried at the entrance wall of the Medici Chapel. Sculptures of the "Madonna and Child" and the Medici patron saints Cosmas and Damian were set over his burial. The "madonna and child" was Michelangelo's own work. The concealed corridor with wall drawings of Michelangelo under the New Sacristy discovered in 1976. 
Pope Clement VII called Michelangelo back to the Sistine Chapel to paint the wall behind the altar with a huge scene of The Last Judgement. He worked on it from 1534 to 1541. At the centre it shows Jesus, surrounded by saints, sitting in judgement over the people of the Earth. To the left, people are rising from their graves and many are welcomed into Heaven. To the right, other people are being sent to Hell where they are dragged down by demons. It is a huge painting with many figures in it.
Like Adam and Eve on the ceiling, all the figures were shown naked. Some of the cardinals in the church said that it was wicked to paint saints, including the Virgin Mary, with no clothes on. They called Michelangelo "the painter of rude bits". There was a long argument about this because some people said that God had created everyone naked, so clothes would not be needed in Heaven. After Michelangelo's death another artist, Daniele da Volterra was called in to paint drapes on the figures. For the rest of his life he was known as "the painter of pants".
In 1546, when Michelangelo was his seventies, he was given one of his most important jobs. The old St Peter's Basilica had been partly demolished and a new one designed by Bramante. But many architects had worked on it and it was still just at the beginning stages. Michelangelo was made the architect. He immediately improved the plan, had important parts made much stronger, and designed a huge dome, taller than any other dome in the world. He died before it was completed, but he left drawings and models so that the next architect, Giacomo della Porta, could finish what he had started. The dome of St. Peter's Basilica still stands as one of the greatest monuments of Christianity, and as a symbol of the city of Rome.
When Michelangelo died, his body was taken back to Florence and buried in the Basilica of Santa Croce (Church of the Holy Cross). On his tomb sit three mourning figures who symbolize Architecture, Painting and Sculpture.
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|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Buonarroti, Michelangelo; Buonarroti, Michelangelo di Lodovico|
|SHORT DESCRIPTION||Sculptor, painter and architect|
|DATE OF BIRTH||6 March 1475|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Caprese, Italy|
|DATE OF DEATH||18 February 1564|
|PLACE OF DEATH||Rome, Italy|