Michelangelo – Giant of the High Renaissance



Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni
(March  6, 1475 Caprese, near Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy – Feb 18, 1564  Rome, Papal States, Italy) (aged 88)
Nationality: Italy
Category: Art workers
Occupation: Sculptors, Painters
Unique distinction: One of the giants of the High Renaissance, who exerted the greatest influence on the development of Western art.
Gender: Male

Michelangelo Quotes: 1. Only God creates. The rest of us just copy. 2. The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection. 3. The mind, the soul, becomes ennobled by the endeavour to create something perfect, for God is perfection, and whoever strives after perfection is striving for something devine. 4.The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. 5 Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish. 6. I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. 7. If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all. 8. If you knew how much work went into it, you wouldn’t call it genius.  9. Genius is eternal patience. 10 . Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle. 11. A man paints with his brains and not with his hands. 12. An artist must have his measuring tools not in the hand, but in the eye. 13. Beauty is the purgation of superfluities. 14. I dare affirm that any artist… who has nothing singular, eccentric, or at least reputed to be so, in his person, will never become a superior talent. 15. I live and love in God’s peculiar light. 16. My soul can find no staircase to heaven unless it be through earth’s loveliness. 17. I have a wife too many already, namely this art, which harries me incessantly, and my works are my children. 18. I am still learning.

Achievements and contributions:

Social and professional position: Michelangelo was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet of the High Renaissance
The main contribution to (what is known): Michelangelo is regarded as the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance and one of the greatest artists of all time. His best-known works, the Pietà and David, ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and The Last Judgment.
Contributions:  Michelangelo was  the greatest sculptor of the Italian Renaissance and one of its greatest painters and architects.
He is a central figure in the history of art: one of the chief creators of the Roman High Renaissance, and the supreme representative of the Florentine valuation of disegno. Michelangelo is considered as an example of the “universal genius”and  the archetypal Renaissance man.
From 1490 to 1492, during the time he was in the school of Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence, Michelangelo created relief the Madonna of the stairs (or Madonna of the steps), a and relief the Battle of the Centaurs.  In these works he demonstrated his virtuosic mystery of a command of unmanageable blocks of marble.
Rome, 1496-1501.  In 1496 Cardinal Raffaele Riario purchased Michelangelo’s marble Cupid and decided to summon him to Rome. In 1496, Michelangelo created two sculptures of Cupid (both works are now lost), that directed attention to Michelangelo’s talents at sculpting for the first time. There in the age of 21, Michelangelo sculpted the Bacchus (1496–97), which established his legendary  fame and led to a commission for the Pietà, which he finished in  1500. In this  masterpiece he demonstrated his unique ability to extract two distinct figures from one marble block.
Florence, 1501-1505. During his stay in Florence he sculpted a monumental  statue of the biblical hero David (17 feet/5,17 м tall), giving him a perfectly proportioned body and musculature. This sculpture is still considered the prime example of the Renaissance ideal of perfect humanity. In 1504 Michelangelo painted  The Holy Family (known as the Doni Tondo) and showed mastery of the human figure in painting as well.
Rome, 1505-1515. In 1505 Michelangelo was offered a commission for the design and sculpting of the tomb of Pope Julius II. Attracted to ambitious sculptural projects, which he did not always complete, he reluctantly agreed to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Nonetheless between 1508 and 1512 he painted the grandiose frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (600 sq.m) in Rome (commissioned by Pope Julius II).
Finally, Michelangelo painted seven prophets and five sybils (prophetesses). Within the ring of prophets and sybils were nine panels on biblical world history. Three panels were devoted to the Creation, (The Creation of Adam), three to the story of Adam and Eve, and three to the story of Noah and the Great Flood. Around the windows are painted the ancestors of Christ. All figures in painting combines colossal strength and great power with expression of heroic and tragic humanity. The grand ensemble is like an anthem to unlimited creative possibilities of God and man  created God in his own image.
From 1513 to 1515 he created  a sculpture The Moses ( (7,7 ft/2,35 m), which was only one central figure for the tomb of Julius II, in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome. The artist made the statue from a block of marble deemed unmalleable by earlier sculptors.
The statue of Moses is depicted as having just received the tablet with the Ten Commandments from God and his image demonstrates the real courage, firm and passion.
He was commissioned to complete St. Peter’s Basilica, the center of the Vatican., begun in 1506 and little advanced since 1514. Though it was not quite finished at Michelangelo’s death, its exterior owes more to him than to any other architect.
1515-1534 work mostly in Florence.
After 1519 Michelangelo was increasingly active in architecture; he designed the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, completed after his death. In 1520 Michelangelo was commissioned to execute a tomb chapel for two young Medici dukes, named Giuliano and Lorenzo who died in 1516 and 1519. The Medici Chapel (1520–34),  is the most nearly complete large sculptural project of Michelangelo’s career. The figures for the tombs in  Medici Chapel, are among his most accomplished creations.
His Laurentian Library (c.1530) in Florence, attached to the church of San Lorenz, designed for the book storage purposes of Pope Leo X. Michelangelo pioneered the Mannerist style at the Laurentian Library.
1534 -1564, Rome. From 1534 to October 1541 Michelangelo painted one of his best masterwork – The Last Judgment, which spanned 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. The composition eventually contained over 300 figures and had at its center nine episodes from the Book of Genesis, divided into three groups.
From 1536 to 1546  he was engaged on plans for the rearrangement and reconstruction of the great group of buildings on the The Capitoline Square in Rome. Then Michelangelo redesigned St. Peter’s Church in Rome (1540 -1550), completing only the dome and four columns for its base before his death.
Michelangelo devoted his last  years largely to writing poetry. He created more than 300 preserved poems, among them there are about 75 finished sonnets and about 95 finished madrigals, poems. The earlier poems are on the theme of Neoplatonic love and are full of logical contradictions and conceits, often very intricate. The later poems are Christian; their mood is penitent; and they are written in a simple, direct style.
Michelangelo’s output in every field during his long life was prodigious; when the sheer volume of correspondence (more than 1,400 letters), sketches, and reminiscences that survive. Approximately 500 of his drawings are held primarily in Italian, British and French collections, including the Casa Buonarroti in Florence.
Although his reputation as a poet has not been so high, his poetry has been praised by such diverse figures as William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and Eugenio Montale (1896-1981).
Creative style: One of the Michelangelo’s qualities most admired by his  worshiper is his terribilità, which may be translated as ‘frightening power’, heroic and awe-inspiring grandeur. In his work Michelangelo combined an extremely sensitivity,  excess of talent with an tremendous  diligence. His masterpieces demonstrate both harmony an balance and embody an   ideal of perfect humanity.
The most of reproductions from the Sistine Chapel Ceiling or the Moses demonstrate  the exclusively expressive of superhuman power and dramatic force.
His original, highly personal style was one of the forces that shaped Mannerism, the next major movement in Western art after the High Renaissance.
Universal Genius.  Michelangelo Buonarroti was the first artist recognised by contemporaries as a genius. In his lifetime he was also often called Il Divino (“the divine one”). In the words of his admiring contemporary Pietro Aretino: “The world has many kings and only one Michelangelo.”
Michelangelo was the first Western artist whose biography was published while he was alive. Two his biographies were published and one of them, by Giorgio Vasari, proposed that Michelangelo was the pinnacle of all artistic achievement since the beginning of the Renaissance.
Major works:
Madonna of the stairs (c. 1491),  Battle of the Centaurs (1492), Crucifix (1492), The Ark of St Dominic (1494-1495), Sleeping Cupid (1496), Bacchus (1496-1497), Pietà (1499-1500), David (1501-1504), Madonna and Child (Madonna of Bruges) (1501-1504), St. Peter (1503-1504), Tomb of Pope Julius II (1505-1530), Moses (1513-1515), Rebellious Slave (1513–1516), Dying Slave (1513–1516), Medici Chapel (1520–1534), Crouching Boy (c. 1530–1534), Brutus (1540).
Painting: The Torment of Saint Anthony (c. 1487–1488),  The Manchester Madonna (c. 1497),  The Entombment  (c. 1500–1501), Doni Tondo (The Holy Family)( c. 1503 -06), The Battle of Cascina (1504), Sistine Chapel ceiling  (1508–1512),  The Last Judgment  (1534–1541), The Conversion of Saul  (c. 1542–1545),  The Crucifixion of St. Peter (c. 1546–1550).
Architecture:  New Sacristy (Medici Chapel) (1520–1534),  Laurentian Library (1523–1559),   Piazza del Campidoglio,  Palazzo Farnese (1546),  St. Peter’s Basilica ( 1546–1564),  Porta Pia (1561–1565),  Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri  (1561).

Career and personal life:

Origin:  Michelangelo was born on 6 March 1475 in small town Caprese near Arezzo, Tuscany.   He was the son of Ludovico Buonarroti, Judicial administrator of  Caprese and of his wife Francesca di Neri del Miniato di Siena. He was the second of five sons in family. Several months after Michelangelo’s birth the family returned to Florence. Because of illness of his mother and her death when he was just six years old, Michelangelo was put to nurse with a stonecutter’s wife of Settignano. Later Michelangelo said, “Along with the milk of my nurse I received the knack of handling chisel and hammer, with which I make my figures.”
Education:  Michelangelo claimed that he was self-taught. His first teacher was Domenico Ghirlandaio. He studed at school of Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence (1490 -1492). He also perceived in his work the influence of such artists as Leonardo, Giotto, and Poliziano.
Career highlights:  His professional career lasted over 70 years. From 1490 to 1492, Michelangelo sculpted the reliefs Battle of the Centaurs and Madonna of the Steps, which were commissioned by Lorenzo de Medici, known as the Magnificent. Medici died shortly after its commission and  after Lorenzo death in 1492, Michelangelo returned to his father’s house. In 1494, 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.
On the next year, when  the political situation in Florence was calmer, he returned to Florence but received no commissions from the new city government.
In 1496 Cardinal Raffaele Riario was impressed by the quality of the Michelangelo’s sculpture and  invited the artist to Rome. In 1501 Michelangelo returned to Florence, where was recognized as the most talented sculptor of central Italy.
After several years in Rome, in 1505 Michelangelo was invited back to Rome by the newly elected Pope Julius II. There he was commissioned to build the Pope’s tomb, on which he worked with interruptions for 40 years.
From 1515 to 1534 he worked mostly for the Medici family in Florence. In 1527, the Florentine citizens, 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 and Michelangelo left Florence for good.
In 1534 Pope Clement VII commissioned Michelangelo to paint a fresco of  The Last Judgement,  which he laboured on from 1534 to October 1541.
In Rome Michelangelo  lived and worked for the rest of his life.
Personal life:  In 1485  Michelangelo’s father remarried and sent him to study grammar with the Humanist Francesco da Urbino in Florence.
The young artist, however, showed no interest in his schooling, preferring to copy paintings from churches and seek the company of painters.
While still a young boy Michelangelo determined, in spite of his father’s opposition, to be an artist.
In 1488, when he was thirteen, his father placed him under the tutelage of the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio, a respected artist of the day. Herewith 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 lived with the Medicis and during this time he attended the Humanist academy which the Medici, had founded along Neo Platonic lines. At the academy, Michelangelo was influenced of many of the most prominent philosophers and writers of the day including Marsilio Ficino, Cristoforo Landino, Pico della Mirandola and Angelo Poliziano and Savonarola. After one year, Michelangelo became the student of Bertoldo di Giovanni, a sculptor employed by the Medici family.
Although Michelangelo claimed that he was self-taught, one might perceive in his work the influence of such artists as Leonardo da Vinci, Giotto, and Poliziano.
Michelangelo’s father had died in 1531 and his favourite brother at about the same time; and he was deeply depressed by these losses of relatives.
In the next year, at the age of 57, he visited Rome, and met the talented aristocrat Tommaso de’Cavalieri (c. 1509–1587), who was 23 years old. Michelangelo wrote letters expressing strong feelings of attachment to young men and dedicated to him many sonnets and madrigals. Some modern commentators assert that the relationship was merely a Platonic affection, even suggesting that Michelangelo was seeking and saw him as his adopted  son.
In Rome, Michelangelo fell in love with noble widow Vittoria Colonna, (1490-1547) marchioness of Pescara and a poet. In 1536, when she was 46 years old Vittoria met Michelangelo and became the object of a passionate friendship on the part of 61-year-old great artist. He addressed so sonnets to her, made drawings for her, and spent much time in her company. She wrote sonnets to him and they were in regular contact until she died.
Personality:  Michelangelo was by nature a self contained, melancholy and  brooding personality and he is concidered  as an example of lonely and tragic artist.
He have not minded,  faithful disciples and even his most monumental works he made almost without assistants. In his personal life, Michelangelo was a very humble, unpretentious and sober. Ascanio Condivi said he was indifferent to food and drink, eating “more out of necessity than of pleasure”.
In 1564 Michelangelo continued to work on the Rondanini Pietà.
On 18 February 1564 he died at home in Macel de’Corvi, Rome. His body was brought back from Rome for interment at the Basilica of Santa Croce, fulfilling the maestro’s last request to be buried in his beloved Tuscany.
He is buried in Santa Croce Church, Florence, Italy.
Michelangelo died in 1564, the year of the birth of Galileo and William Shakespeare.
Zest: The Buonarrotis claimed to descend from the Countess Mathilde of Canossa; this claim remains unproven, but Michelangelo himself believed it.  Pietro Torrigiano, who was also a pupil of Bertoldo di Giovanni , once struck the 17 year old Michelangelo on the nose, and thus caused that disfigurement which is so conspicuous in all the his portraits.  The depictions of nakedness in the papal chapel was considered obscene and sacrilegious, and Cardinal Carafa and Monsignor Sernini campaigned to have the fresco removed or censored, but the Pope resisted.
Michelangelo’s David (1501-1504) was sculpted during almost the same time that da Vinci was painting the Mona Lisa (1503—05). The Moses marble sculpture depicts him with horns on his head. This was the normal medieval Western depiction of Moses, based on the description of Moses’ face as “cornuta” (“horned”) in the Latin Vulgate translation of Exodus. Michelangelo pursued artistic perfection in his representation of the human body. He fervently studied anatomy and even gaining permission from the prior of the church of Santo Spirito to study cadavers in the church’s hospital. He said: “Trifles make perfection, but perfection is no trifle.”
(Visited 200 times, 1 visits today)