Portrait Of Michelangelo

Information on the life of Michelangelo; read this article for the details.

Like the rock stars of today, painter and sculptor Michelangelo is known by his first name only. He was born Michelangelo Buonarroti in March of 1475 in the small village of Caprese. His father was a Florentine official with ties to the ruling Medici family. Michelangelo's artist's legacy leaves us in awe, centuries after his death, and many consider him to be the greatest artist that ever lived.

By the youthful age of 15, Michelangelo was a prodigy, a favorite of Florence's leading citizen, Lorenzo de Medici. After serving his appreticeship, he became disillusioned with book learning and set out to study nature firsthand. He had a quick mind and curiosity, but he applied them to only one thing, the human body. Mastering the techniques of the ancient Greeks and Romans, it's said he dissected corpses to learn anatomy. Although dissection was illegal, Michelangelo felt it was the key to understanding the body and portraying it realistically.

There were many sides to his man. Throughout his life, Michelangelo's numerous talents were in great demand. Popes and Princes vied to commission him to paint, sculpt, or design churches and monuments. He struggled to remain independent of his patrons' demands. For the most part, he did what he wanted, when he wanted. Remarkably, his patrons put up with this behavior.



Despite his fine technical skill, he thought true creative genius came not from the rational planning of the artist, but from divine inspiration. He's been called one of the first "mad geniuses," working only when he felt inspired, and then doing so with the intensity of a maniac.

One of his most important and famous works, the statue called David, was sculpted when Michelangelo was just 26. It displays this blend of vibrant energy and calm at the same time. His version of the giant-slayer shows man in full bloom, poised, alert, cultured and ready to conquer the foe. The statue became a symbol of the ready-for-anything confidence of the Florentine Renaissance. Having seen David twice, I can personally testify to its power. It has a mesmerizing quality, drawing and holding the eyes, unlike any other statue I've seen before or since.

Another work familiar to most people is the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It was Pope Julius II who convinced Michelangelo he should turn from sculpture to provide the painted decoration of the done of the Sistine Chapel in Saint Peter's Cathedral. Hoisted to the ceiling of the cathedral on a high scaffolding, the artist lay on his back and painted its entirety with figures which portray a driving force and an obvious deep emotion. Expects say what he painted there physically is pagan in form, but Christian in subject matter.

The Sistine Chapel is basically a pictorial culmination of the Renaissance. It chronicles the entire Christian history of the world, from the Creation to the Coming of Christ to the Last Judgment.

Michelangelo, as a man, was something of a contradiction: forceful and self-confident, nearly to the point of arrogance, yet tormented by self-doubts and feelings of unworthiness. His inner turmoil rises to the surface toward the end of his life, when his scupltures look more agonized. This is evidenced by several later Pietas (sculptures of the dead Jesus with this mother, Mary) in both Florence and Milan.

Additionally, Michelangelo was also a great architect. He designed the dome of St. Peter's in Rome, influenced by the dome in Florence. When asked to build the done of St. Peter's Michelangelo commented, "I can build one bigger but not more beautiful than the dome in my hometown, Florence."

Whether he died satisfied with his life's work, we'll never know. But he lived almost 90 years, something practically unheard of at that time. He was productive until the end.

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