Michelangelo Buonarroti

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Michelangelo Buonarroti
Michelangelo Buonarroti
1475 - 1564

Place of Birth: Caprese, Tuscany
Where Michelangelo Worked: Rome, Florence, Bologna
Type of Art: Sculpture; Tempera painting; Fresco painting; Architecture; Military engineering
Most Famous Artworks: The Sistine Chapel Ceiling; the David; the Pieta

Biography of Michelangelo

Page Symbol for Artist pagesMichelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was born on March 6, 1475 near Arezzo, in Caprese, Tuscany, Italy. His father, Ludovico Buonarroti Simoni, was a local Magistrate in the town of Caprese, so Michelangelo came from a privileged background. He was actually raised in Florence, but was later sent to live with a sculptor and his wife in Settignano.

At the age of 13, he convinced his disapproving father to allow him to apprentice with Domenico Ghirlandaio for a period of three years. It was here that he came to the attention of Lorenzo ('Il Magnifico') de' Medici, who for all intents and purposes ruled Florence at that time. Lorenzo took the aspiring young sculptor under his wing, and Michelangelo lived at the Medici palace for about two years. Due to Lorenzo's patronage, Michelangelo met many renowned Renaissance scholars and other socially prominent people at the Medici court. This humanist education under the mentorship of Lorenzo was to influence Michelangelo's art and social perceptions for the rest of his life.

In 1492 Lorenzo died, and his son Piero refused to sponsor Michelangelo any longer. To gain greater physical realism in his art, Michelangelo took up the study of anatomy. As did most artists he fell under the spell of the preacher Fra Girolamo Savonarola. (We can see the influences of Savonarola's preaching on Michelangelo's depiction of The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel in Rome.) With the expulsion of the Medici, Michelangelo feared his association with the family might lead to his own imprisonment or persecution, so he fled to Bologna and Venice for a brief period of time. He moved back to Florence four years later, when things had calmed down. Commissions were scarce under Savonarola, so he moved to Rome, where he carved the Pietà. When the new republic in Florence was established under Piero Soderini, he moved back to his native city to carve the David, also referred to as the Giant.

In 1503, Pope Julius II summoned Michelangelo to Rome for the purpose of building the Pope a tomb. Julius and Michelangelo had very similar personalities and often quarreled, although they respected each other immensely. The tomb of Julius II was to be made up of several statues. Michelangelo worked on the challenging project off and on for a period of 40 years, decades after the death of Julius in 1513. The tomb was never completed as planned.

In 1508, he began to work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo was not pleased with the quality of his assistants' work, and so did the vast majority of the ceiling frescoes by himself. He completed the first half by 1510 and the second half by 1512. This incomparable work garnered him the title of greatest artist of all time.

Once the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was completed, Michelangelo returned to work on the tomb of Pope Julius II. After the death of Julius, Leo X was elected Pope. Leo had been Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici before being elected Pope, and was a son of Lorenzo 'Il Magnifico.' In fact, he and Michelangelo had known each other during their youth in the Medici palace in Florence. Leo commissioned Michelangelo to create a funerary chapel to commemorate the Medici family. This work extended into the time of the next Pope, Clement VII. A period of political upheaval ensued and Michelangelo went into hiding for a time. When the dust from the unrest settled, Michelangelo moved from Florence to Rome for the last time; he was to spend the remaining 30 years of his life in Rome.

In 1536 he began to work on The Last Judgment above the altar of the Sistine Chapel, for Pope Paul III. In the following years he completed two more works for Paul -- The Conversion of St. Paul and The Crucifixion of St. Peter.

In his later years, he developed his talent for architecture, devoting his work on St. Peter's Basilica to the 'glory of God'. He continued to draw and write poetry until his death. Michelangelo passed away on February 18, 1564, at the age of 88. He was interred in the church of Santa Croce in Florence.

Artwork of Michelangelo
(to see a larger version of the artwork below, just click on the picture)

La Pieta by Michelangelo
La Pieta

This sculpture was created by Michelangelo in 1499, when he was just 24 years old. It represents the Virgin Mary holding the lifeless body of her son Jesus. La Pieta translates to 'the pity'.

Michelangelo's "The Last Judgement"
The Last Judgement

This painting is the largest single fresco painting of the 16th century. It took six years to complete, from 1535 to 1541.It was originally commissioned by Pope Clement VIII but was completed for Pope Paul III.

Michelangelo's David"

This sculpture was made from a single block of white Carrara marble, completed in 1504. It was originally displayed in the Palazzo della Signoria in Florence, Italy. It is now housed in the Accademia Gallery in Florence.

Michelangelo's "Bacchus"

Thought to be Michelangelo's first sculpture, this piece was commissioned by the banker Jacopo Galli, to be placed in his garden. Originally done in Rome, it was moved to Florence in 1572, where it remains today.

Michelangelo's "Moses"

This piece was completed in 1515 and was meant to be part of six pieces on the tomb of Julius II. Other pieces for the tomb were never completed.

Michelangelo's ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
Entire ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

This amazing work actually comprises many works. It was started in 1508 and completed in 1512. Click on the link provided to take a tour of all the frescos on the ceiling.Tour of Sistine Chapel Ceiling
Part of the Sistine Chapel paintings by Michelangelo Part of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo................

Michelangelo's "The Conversion of Saul (St. Paul)"
The Conversion of Saul
(St. Paul)

This work of art is a fresco painted between 1542 - 1545.
It is located in the Cappella Paolina, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican.

Drawings of Michelangelo

There are still about 500 of Michelangelo's drawings in existence today. Most of them are housed at Windsor Castle as part of the Royal Collection, in Florence at the Casa Buonarroti, and at the Louvre in Paris.


http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/bio/m/michelan/biograph.html ...................



Page symbol for Artist pagesWhere Michelangelo's Artwork is Displayed

You can find Michelangelo's artwork in the following museums, churches, buildings, and open spaces:

- Vatican Museums, Rome (especially the Sistine Chapel)
- St. Peter's Basilica, Rome (La Pietà)
- St. Peter's Basilica, Rome (design for dome, partial design for floor plan)
- San Pietro in Vincoli church, Rome (Moses)
- Santa Maria sopra Minerva Basilica, Rome
- Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome
- Uffizi Gallery, Florence
- Medici Chapel and Laurentian Library, San Lorenzo Basilica, Florence
- Museum of Cathedral Works, Florence (The Deposition)
- Accademia Gallery, Florence (the original David sculpture)
- Casa Buonarroti, Florence
- Bargello Museum, Florence
- Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
- Santa Maria del Santo Spirito Basilica, Florence (rare wooden crucifix carved when Michelangelo was 17)
- Basilica of San Domenico, Bologna, Italy
- Cathedral, Siena, Italy
- Louvre, Paris (Rebellious and Dying Slaves)
- National Gallery, London
- Royal Academy of Arts, London
- Royal Library and Print Room, Windsor Castle, England
- Church of Our Lady, Bruges, Belgium
- Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

Page symbol for Artist pagesTrivia About Michelangelo:

- A distant connection to the Tudors: When Michelangelo was young and working for the Medici, he derided the work of another young sculptor, Pietro Torrigiano, who responded by breaking Michelangelo's nose. Torrigiano -- who would eventually work in England for Henry VII and create the tomb effigies of the King and his Queen, Elizabeth of York (among other works) -- was therefore responsible for the disfigurement of the 'Divine' Michelangelo's face.

- It is said that after creating the beautiful La Pietà, Michelangelo overheard visitors to the Vatican crediting his sculpture to another artist. So he sneaked into the Vatican one night and carved his name into the sash across the Virgin Mary's chest:

(Michelangelo Buonarroti, Florentine, made this).

- In The Last Judgement, Michelangelo painted his own likeness as the flayed skin being carried by a martyr.

Michelangelo, self portrait in flayed skin

- When Michelangelo's David was first unveiled in the Palazzo della Signoria, it was stoned by protesters who objected to it because it 'inflamed passions.'

- During an uprising against the Medici in 1527, David's arm was broken off - but recovered and hidden by a young Giorgio Vasari (author of Lives of the Most Eminent Painter, Sculptors, and Architects, 1550).

- When Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, he did it for the most part lying on his back.

Sistine Chapel

- As a contender for the title of "Renaissance Man" in competition with Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo was called "Il Divino" (the Divine One) by his contemporaries. He was also the first Western artist to have his biography published during his own lifetime.

- Although an amazing and gifted painter, Michelangelo's true passion was actually sculpture. He was also an outstanding architect.

- When he did paint, Michelangelo's preferred medium was fresco because he did not like to work in oils.

- Michelangelo also wrote poems.

- Michelangelo had two biographies written during his own lifetime. This had never been done before for any other artist. The biographies were written by Giorgio Vasari and Ascanio Condivi. The Condivi biography was encouraged by Michelangelo himself, to correct some of the errors that Vasari made in the first biography.

- During the entire span of his career, Michelangelo had a love/hate relationship with the Medici family. He worked for them in their native city of Florence, as well as for two Medici Popes in Rome. Near the end of his career he distanced himself from them completely, due to the politics of Cosimo I de' Medici. When Michelangelo died in Rome, the Medici arranged to sneak his body back to Florence in a straw cart for a grand funeral and burial at the church of Santa Croce in his native city.

Page symbol for Artist pagesMichelangelo Art of the Day:

More pages