Michelangelo is considered to be one of the first "people" in the field of art history. Even though he earned a reputation for being temper-prone, abusive, and confusing, he was a polymath genius who is largely considered among the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance era. Although he was a member of the movement to revive classical Greek and Roman art, his distinctive contributions went well beyond just replicating ancient styles. His art was filled with psychological depth and emotional authenticity that had never been seen before, which often caused a significant amount of controversy. Even though he was a callous individual, he was able to win the support of some of the most well-known patrons of his time and go on to create some of the most iconic works of art in the history of the world, which are still regarded with respect and are even the subject of religious devotion.
Michelangelo was the second of five boys born on March 6, 1475, in Caprese, Italy. He was the most famous and influential artist of all time. When Michelangelo was born, his father, Leonardo di Buonarroti Simoni, worked in the nearby village of Caprese as a judge for a short period. When Michelangelo was only a little child, his family decided to move back to Florence. At the age of six, due to his mother's severe sickness and eventual passing, he was given the care of a family who worked in the stonecutting industry.
According to some of his early biographers, Michelangelo's primary interest was not in formal education but in observing other artists at local churches and painting what he observed. Michelangelo was introduced to the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio through a classmate from elementary school named Francesco Granacci, six years older than Michelangelo.
At thirteen, he began training as an apprentice at Ghirlandaio's workshop, where he got familiar with the fresco painting method. After spending a year at the workshop, Ghirlandaio sent him to the Florentine monarch Lorenzo de' Medici's palace to study classical sculpture in the Medici gardens.
Between 1489 and 1492, he was a guest of the Medici family. During this period, he mingled with the city's most notable literary figures and intellectuals, including members of the city's social elite. During this time, he also sculpted the reliefs known as 'Battle of the Centaurs' and 'Madonna of the Steps,' both completed between 1490 and 1492.
Following Lorenzo's death in 1492, the Medici family lost their position of influence. Because of this, Michelangelo was required to go to Bologna, where he continued his academic pursuits. To help decorate the church of San Domenico, he sculpted three saints in 1494. In 1495, he relocated back to Florence and immediately started his career as a sculptor. During this time, he worked on two miniature statues: one depicting "St. John the Baptist" and the other depicting a sleeping Cupid.
Cardinal Raffaele Riario (an Italian Cardinal of the Renaissance) was so impressed by his design's brilliance that he invited him to visit Rome and requested him to work on a statue of Bacchus, the Roman God of wine. He was tasked with creating "Pieta," a sculpture depicting the Virgin Mary weeping over the body of Jesus, in 1497 by Cardinal Jean de Bilheres-Lagraulas. The sculpture may be seen in the 'St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City at the present day.
With his newfound fame as an artist, he returned to Florence in 1499. He was considered Italy's most skilled sculptor, so he was tasked with carving a statue of the biblical character David. He sculpted an extraordinary figure out of a massive block of marble. The monument was installed on the roof of the 'Florence Cathedral,' which is located in Florence.
Early in the year 1505, Pope Julius II invited him back to Rome to build his tomb, which contained around 40 sculptures of life-size proportions. During the following four decades, he devoted his time to working on the project despite being often diverted by other tasks. In 1508, Julius permitted him to design the Sistine Chapel ceiling; a task carried out over four years. Michelangelo kept working on the tomb of Julius II for several more years after the ceiling was finished in 1512.
During this period, he was also responsible for designing the Medici Chapel in Florence and the famous Laurentian Library that can be seen in Florence's 'San Lorenzo Church.' He settled in Rome in 1534 and subsequently met Vittoria Colonna, who inspired many of his sonnets and poetry. It was in 1534 that he received the commission to paint a fresco of "The Last Judgement" on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel; he finished the Work in 1541. In 1546, he was responsible for serving as the chief architect for the 'St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. In his final years, he concentrated only on poetry and architecture as creative endeavors.
Most Well-Known and Appreciated Work
1. Pieta (The Italian Word for "The Virgin Mary)
The Pietà was the first of Michelangelo's works to attract the attention of the highest authorities in the church. It was the piece that ultimately led to his being given the title of the "Supreme Pontiff." In 1497, Cardinal Jean de Bilheres-Lagraulas gave Michelangelo the task of sculpting a statue of the Virgin Mary for one of his churches. The sculpture depicted the scenario when Jesus was sitting on the lap of the Virgin Mary when he was either dead or in the process of dying. Michelangelo had been requested to make the picture, which did not have a biblical origin but was exceedingly frequent in most religious artworks from Europe and notably France, where the Cardinal was stationed so that he would have seen the scenario daily.
As soon as Michelangelo had completed his sculpture, it was already receiving praise from the whole of the cathedral in Rome. They couldn't believe that such a masterpiece could have been sculpted out of a single piece of stone by someone who was just twenty-four at the time.
Bacchus, the Roman God of wine, walks drunkenly on the edge of a cliff where he has been erected as a monument. He has a cup in one hand raised to his mouth for a sip while wearing an ivy wreath. On the other hand, he is holding a lion's hide, which is a representation of death that originates from the tale of Hercules. A satyr, an important figure in the religion of Bacchus, appears from behind his left leg. Typically, the satyr is shown as a drunken, lustful woods god.
The ancient Greek artist Praxiteles, known for his bronze sculptures, was the source of inspiration for this piece, which Cardinal Riario commissioned, but when Riario saw the final artwork, he thought it was improper, so he rejected it. Instead of keeping it, Michelangelo decided to sell it to his banker Jacopo Galli.
David is a 17-foot-tall sculpture that displays the prophet David as regal and naked, with the slingshot that he would use to slay Goliath slung over one shoulder. When the city of Florence initially commissioned Michelangelo to sculpt David, it was planned to be one of many sculptures that lined the top of the dome of the Florence Cathedral. However, when the monument was finally finished in 1504, it was met with such tremendous acclaim that it was agreed that it should be made more accessible to the general public. In addition, considering its height of 17 feet and its weight of 6.4 tonnes, transporting it to the top would not have been a simple task.
After that, it was decided to put it on display in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, where the Florence government offices are located. It remained there for about 370 years before being relocated to the Galleria dell' Accademia, the Gallery of the Academy of Florence, in 1873. This is where he is still on exhibit to this day.
Moses, which Pope Julius II commissioned to serve as the centerpiece of his tomb, is widely regarded as one of the artist's most accomplished works. This massive, epic-scale monument shows Moses sitting regally to watch over the tablets displaying the Ten Commandments. He has a serious look on his face, which conveys his rage after returning from Mount Sinai to see his people adoring the golden calf.
Although the tomb in its current condition is stunning, it was initially intended to be much bigger. Pope Julius II, who commissioned the sculpture while he was still living, intended his ultimate resting place to be a three-level structure with up to 40 life-sized sculptures possibly embellishing it. However, other projects, such as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, stood in the way-but not until Moses was sculpted with the original designs in mind.
5. The Last Judgement
The wall behind the altar in the Sistine Chapel is covered by Michelangelo's painting "The Last Judgement." Even though it is obvious that the Bible served as a source of inspiration for the artist, the painting illustrates Christ's second coming, and even though it is clear that the Bible was a source of inspiration for the artist, his imaginative vision ultimately prevails in this painting.
When creating his "Last Judgement," Michelangelo seems to have been allowed creative license to include images from mythology and Bible themes. This demonstrates that the artist's patron, Pope Paul III, has an incredible amount of trust in him.
The Last Judgment is an enormous picture that has a large number of characters. All of the figures, including the ones on the ceiling depicting Adam and Eve, were shown to be nude. It was considered heretical by a number of the cardinals in the church to depict saints, such as the Virgin Mary, without their clothes. Michelangelo was known as "the painter of rude bits. "There was a lengthy discussion regarding this topic since some individuals said that because God had created everyone nude, people would not need to wear clothes in Heaven.
Self-Portraits in His Work of Art
Michelangelo was a talented artist who devised inventive methods to depict himself in his works rather than just signing them. The only item that he did sign his name on was the Pieta. The Last Judgment fresco that spans an entire wall behind the altar in the Sistine Chapel is one of the most well-known works in which he could include his image.
This picture illustrates the second coming of Christ, as described in the Bible. The depiction of various horrific ways that martyrs were slaughtered demonstrates the painter's imaginative vision.
Throughout his life, Michelangelo wrote more than 300 poems. He discussed a wide range of topics in his poems, including sex, growing older, and his overactive bladder. Neo-Platonic ideas, such as the ability of love and ecstasy to join the human soul with the divine, were present in much of the poetry.
The vast majority of his famous sonnets were addressed to Vittoria Colonna, who was also his close friend. His sonnets and madrigals had widespread popularity among the educated population of Rome throughout the 16th century, and some of them were even put to music by musicians. Unfortunately, not a single one of his writings was ever published during his lifetime.
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was born on March 6, 1475, in Caprese, the Republic of Florence, to parents Ludovico di Leonardo di Buonarroti Simoni, a magistrate, and Francesca Neri, his wife. There were five boys in the family, and Michelangelo was the second oldest. His academic career began and ended in the city of Florence. Despite this, he wasn't much of a scholar, but he had a stronger passion for the arts. Michelangelo began his artistic training as a naive teenager by assisting the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio. Later, he studied sculpting at the Palazzo Gardens, which the Medici family owned.
Michelangelo started carving, and he soon began making marble sculptures considered among the greatest works ever created. The Pieta and David, two well-known pieces of art, were both commissioned by him. Additionally, the Pope gave him the task of painting murals. His most well-known piece of visual art is the fresco located on the Sistine Chapel's ceiling. Michelangelo afterward started working on architectural projects. In addition to it, he started producing a significant amount of poetry. On February 18, 1564, he passed away at his residence in Rome after a short struggle with sickness. At the time of his passing, he had lived a full life and had reached the age of 88. Following his last wishes, he was laid to rest in Florence.