The Life And Works Of Michelangelo
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The Life And Works Of Michelangelo

MichelangeloÂ’s is one the great men whose contribution to the world of arts and architecture cannot be erased out of history. Most of the paintings in the St. PeterÂ’s Basilica in Vatican City were made by him.

Michelangelo, a man whose contributions and achievements exerted great influence on his contemporaries and the subsequent generations down to the present day, was a renown Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet whose works has stood the test of time. Michelangelo’s crave for arts was so genuine that he usually chose the most challenging pieces mostly marble carvings and fresco paintings. He was so philosophical and gave his works multiple layers of interpretations ranging from religion to mythologies. His zeal to breakthrough most tedious works he undertook was remarkable although most of his works were left unfinished. His name is associated with most of the medieval paintings and architectural masterpieces of the ancient Rome.

Statue of Michelangelo, Uffizi Museum on flickr.com by jay8085

His early life:

Michelangelo Buonarroti was born in Caprese in 1475 and grew up in the artistic town of Florence. The masterpieces of arts all around the town of Florence influenced him to take up a career in sculpturing and painting. As a child, he preferred drawing to the other subjects in the school and he kept on drawing despite his father’s disapproval of his choice of the subject. At the age of 13, when his father could not stop him, he was sent to be apprenticed to Florentine painter Domenico Ghirlandaio where he spent only one year. It is believed that Michelangelo learnt the technique of fresco painting from Ghirlandaio.

 Michelangelo's The Last Judgment on flickr.com by Randy OHC

Michelangelo soon discovered another master and from 1490 to 1492, he lived with the then leading art patron of Florence, Lorenzo de Medici, meaning ‘Lorenzo the Magnificent’ in a community of artists, poets and philosophers. Michelangelo was taught and influenced by Bertoldo di Giovanni and other members of the Medici circle who also introduced him to Neoplatonism (a philosophy that regards the body as a trap for a soul that longs to return to God) which is reflected in most of his works. Scholars interpret many of Michelangelo's works in terms of these ideas, in particular, his human figures that appear to break free from the stone that imprisons them. Michelangelo also studied the classical art of the ancient Greeks and Roman from his master, Lorenzo de’ Medici.

The excavation of the massive ancient sculptor of Laocoon which Michelangelo participated in inspired him and he used it in many of his late works including the ‘Last judgment’, which he did in Sistine Chapel, Vatican City between 1536 to 1541. He was a very religious man, and he expressed his personal beliefs most clearly in his late works of Christian paintings and sculptures in and around Rome. Michelangelo came in contact with learned and powerful men among who are the Popes who commissioned him to work on the St. Peter’s Basilica. He found favour in the sight of Popes Julius II, Clement VII (born Guilio de’ Medici, nephew of Lorenzo, Michelangelo’s master and teacher) and Paul III.

His works:

David di Michelangelo on flickr.com by JackVersloot

Michelangelo produced his first large scale sculpture, a larger-than-life-size figure of a drunken Bacchus (1496-1498, Museo Nazionale, Bargello, Florence), the Roman god of wine. Another memorable work is the Pieta, showing Christ in his mother’s lap, just after he is taken down from the cross, in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City which he did between 1497 and 1500. This was one of the exceptional works of Michelangelo in the sense that he gave it a smooth finishing unlike many that he left halfway and unpolished. He later returned to the theme of the Pietà late in his life, in two of his most personal expressions: the Florentine Pietà (finished 1555, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence), which he meant to have placed on his own tomb, and the Rondanini Pietà (1555-1564, Castello Sforzesco, Milan), a work that remained unfinished when he died.

Michelangelo did sculpture ‘David’ in Florence based on the Old Testament story of David and Goliath (1501-1504, Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence). The David massive statue, which stands 5.17 meters (17 ft) tall, was carved from a block of stone that another sculptor had left unfinished. Michelangelo originally intended the sculpture for the roof of the Florence Cathedral, so he made the head and the hand extra large to make it more visible from a distance but the statue was never placed there as planned. The statue was placed in front of the Palazzo della Signoria, the center of government in Florence as a result, its meaning changed from a Biblical story statue to be placed on the roof of the Cathedral to a symbol of the political strength of Florence against the forces of their enemies.

Michelangelo's Pieta on flickr.com by stringbot

In 1505 Michelangelo started work on a tomb for Pope Julius II which was supposed to stand in the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica. The edifice was supposed to be a freestanding structure with three levels. Firstly were to be images representing victory alternating with slaves at the bottom; secondly, four seated figures including Moses and St. Paul; and the last, angels supporting a coffin or the image of the Pope. In all, there would have been forty statues forming an edifice of a height compared to a gigantic building.

Michelangelo's Moses on flickr.com by HarshLight

Other works include his paintings of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel between 1508 and 1512 and the Papal Chapel. He designed the facade of the Church of San Lorenzo in Florence between 1516and 1520, but never executed the project. He built two large wall tombs facing each other in the San Lorenzo’s sacristy. One was intended for Giuliano de’ Medici (duke of Nemours), the son of Lorenzo the Magnificent; the other for Giuliano’s nephew Lorenzo (di Piero) de’ Medici (duke of Urbino). He made nude statues symbolizing Day and Night and kept beneath Giuliano; and nudes representing Dawn and Dusk beneath a seated Lorenzo. Michelangelo painted ‘The Last Judgment’ between 1536 and 1541 in Sistine Chapel, Vatican City. He also designed the awesome Piazza del Campidoglio which was begun in 1539 and later completed by others. In 1546 Michelangelo was given the task to complete St. Peter’s Basilica after the death of Donato Bramante, the first contractor in 1514.

Michelangelo's Tomb II on flickr.com by HarshLight

Before his death in 1564, Michelangelo has contributed so much to the world in the field of arts and architecture. Apart from the above land mark achievements, he produced different kinds of drawings like composition drawing, quick pen sketches and architectural plans. Among his numerous drawings is the popular Divine Head, a drawing of a female paired with the male Count of Canossa.

Michelangelo's painting in the box is by Ruben SLP (flickr,com) creative commons.

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Comments (4)

Great work!

Great post!

Very detailed write with great info about Michelangelo. I really enjoyed it.

Ranked #1 in Art & Art History

An exceptionally well-written piece.

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