Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni

1475-1564 Italy-High Renaissance

 

Brief Biography-In short, Vasari stated, “that whilst industrious spirits illuminated by Giotto and his followers, were striving to give the world proof of the talent which the benevolence of the stars had bestowed upon their genius, all toiling anxiously, though in vain, in their eagerness to imitate the grandeur of nature with the skills of art. To come as close as they could to that knowledge many call intelligence, the most benevolent Ruler of Heaven mercifully turned His eyes to Earth, and, witnessing the hopeless quantity of labours, he decided to send Earth a spirit. He bequeathed to this spirit, as his native city, Florence.

Thus in 1474, under a fateful and fortunate star, a son was born in the Casentino district to Lodovico di Lionardo Buonarroti Simoni, chief magistrate in Castle Chiusi and Caprese, in the diocese of Arezzo, where Saint Francis received the stigmata, and he gave his son the name Michelangelo".

When Lodovico's term as magistrate ended, he returned to Florence. His farm was near quarries where he gave Michelangelo to a wet-nurse in the villa who was the wife of a stonecutter. He later said to Vasari "Giorgio, if I have any intelligence at all, it has come from being born in the pure air of your native Arezzo, and also because I took the hammer and chisels with which I carve my figures from my wet-nurse's milk".

He was sent to Florence to study in a literary profession, but his genius urged him towards sculpture and painting despite the remonstrations of his parents. In his fourteenth year, he became a disciple of Domenico Ghirlandaio; a master, at that time, more renowned for the number of worthy artists he fashioned, rather than his presentations. He quickly proved himself to be far superior to his master by correcting a drawing by him to everyone's surprise; the picture was later kept by of Vasari, given by Francesco Granacci, a fellow student.

Lorenzo de' Medici the Magnificent, had Bertoldo the sculptor and student of Donatello in his garden at Piazza San Marco. There he decided to found a school and requested that Ghirlandaio send him sculptors to train, he received Michelangelo and Granacci. Lorenzo was astonished by Michelangelo's work on seeing his' head of a faun' saying that old men do not have teeth, and with sleight of hand, Michelangelo removed a tooth. On seeing this, Lorenzo was so amused; he asked his father Lodovico, can he raise the boy as his own, Lodovico willingly granted the request. During his stay in the house of Lorenzo, one Agnolo Poliziano, had Michelangelo execute a relief in marble of 'Hercules and the Centaurs,' at which time a jealous student named Pietro Torregiani, broke his nose and it scarred him for life. Michelangelo stayed in that house for four years until the death of Lorenzo in 1492.

At the age of seventeen, Michelangelo returned to his father's house, where he produced numerous sculptures. He carved a statue of Hercules, which stood in the house of Strozzi and later sent to King Francis of France. Piero de' Medici, who succeeded his father, employed Michelangelo on lesser projects, one being a statue of snow. Florence was not happy with Piero, and Michelangelo, predicting his fall from grace, fled to Bologna where he worked on the shrine of Domenico until the upcoming unrest settled in Florence.

When he returned to Florence, he finished his statue of David. According to Joachim von Sandrart, the purchaser, Pietro Soderini, thought the nose was too large and Michelangelo pleased him by reducing it, after which Soderini stated that it brought the statue to life. Michelangelo received four hundred scudi in payment, Soderini erected the figure in 1504.

Pietro Soderini, who was Gonfaloniere (holder of high communal office) commissioned him to do part of the Grand Hall of the Council with Leonardo da Vinci, who was working on his opposite wall. He chose as his subject, the Pisan war. During this time, he completed a giant cartoon, The Bathers, which was held in the highest esteem by all of the artists of the time who saw it. The picture, along with the Pietà, gained him such fame that Pope Julius II summoned him to build his tomb. Placed in the church of Saint Peter in Rome, it took forty years to complete. The frescoes in the Grand Hall were unfinished.

It was 1508 when he began work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He preferred to work on it alone, which annoyed the Pope because of his impatience to have it done quickly. There were tumultuous outbreaks of rage from the Pope, over the time it took to complete. Julius II was known at times to smite him with his staff. 'He finished it circa 1516'. Hailed as such an excellent work of art Michelangelo was, without fear of blasphemy, referred to as "Il Divino Michelangelo", the Divine Michelangelo.

On completion of the ceiling, he immediately started work on the tomb again, however when Julius died, Pope Leo X became his new master, and he was sent back to Florence to work for the Medici. He spent time on the façade of San Lorenzo, the church built by the house of Medici; it was not realised work until after the death of Pope Leo X and the accession of Pope Clement VII.

In 1527, the sack of Rome under the Constable de Bourbon took place, and the Medici were once again, ousted from Florence. The republicans installed Michelangelo as an engineer in charge of fortifications of the city, a position that put him in fear of the Medici and made him flee to Venice. On his return to Florence, he stayed concealed in the house of a friend. When Pope Clement VII, who was a Medici, was restored to power in Rome, aware of Michelangelo's talents, granted him pardon and ordered him to resume work in the Medici Chapel in San Lorenzo in Florence, which he finished. In the year of his father's death, 1534, he left Florence and stayed in Rome for the remainder of his life.

In 1536, Pope Paul III engaged him to paint "The Last Judgment", it took him five years to complete. When on Christmas Day in 1541 it was unveiled, it narrowly escaped destruction, as it was loathed and loved. It did not avoid having its nude figures clothed after his death, however.

In 1546, The architect Antonio da San Gallo died, and the Pope ordered Michelangelo to take his place on the building of Saint Peter's, despite Michelangelo's protests. He had no respect for the crew left behind by San Gallo, which they resented and spent their time making his life as miserable as possible. The Pope eventually made him Chief Architect on all building projects. Popes Pius IV and V ensured his plans were never tampered with by the superintendents of the building, even after his death in 1564.

His talents, were so well respected during his long lifetime, that he was engaged by numerous dignitaries, including, Julius II, Leo X, Clement VII, Julius III, Paul IV, Pius IV, Suleiman, Emperor of the Turks, Francis Valois, King of France, Emperor Charles V, Signoria of Venice and Duke Cosimo de' Medici, to name but a few.

 

Click an Image to Enlarge

The Last
Judgment

The Last Judgment

Detail
1

Detail One

Detail
2

Detail Two

Detail
3

Detail Three


Fall and
Expulsion

Fall and Expulsion from the Farden of Eden

Sistine
Chapel

Sistine Chapel

Leda and
the Swan

Leda and the Swan

The Creation
of Adam

Creation of Adam


Conversion

Conversion of Saint Paul

The Holy
Family

The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist

The
Deluge

The Deluge

Creation
of Eve

Creation of Eve

Martyrdom of
Saint Peter

Martyrdom of Saint Peter

Creation of the Sun-
Moon and Plants

Creation of the Sun-Moon and Plants

The
Entombment

Entombment

Drunkenness
of Noah

Drunkenness of Noah

The Cumaean
Sibyl

Cumaean Sibyl

The Delphic
Sibyl

The Delphic Sibyl

The Erythraean
Sibyl

The Erythraean Sibyl

The Libyan
Sybil

The Libyan Sybil

The Persian
Sibyl

The Persian Sibyl

Virgin
and Child

Virgin and Child with Saint John and Angels

Ancestors of Christ-
figures-one

Ancestors of Christ-figures-one

Ancestors of Christ-
figures-two

Ancestors of Christ-figures-two

Ancestors of Christ-
figures-three

Ancestors of Christ-figures-three

Ancestors of Christ-
figures-four

Ancestors of Christ-figures-four

Ancestors of Christ-
figures-five

Ancestors of Christ-figures-five

Ancestors of Christ-
figures-six

Ancestors of Christ-figures-six

figures
-seven

Ancestors of Christ-figures-seven

Prophet
Daniel

Prophet
Ezekiel

Prophet Ezekiel

Prophet
Isaiah

Prophet Isaiah

Prophet
Jeremiah

Prophet Jeremiah

Prophet
Joel

Prophet Joel

Prophet
Jonah

Prophet Jonah

Prophet
Zechariah

Prophet Zechariah

Ignudo-
a

Ignudo-a

Ignudo-
b

Ignudo-b

Ignudo-
c

Ignudo-c

Ignudo-
d

Ignudo-d

Ignudo-
e

Ignudo-e

Ignudo-
f

Ignudo-f

Ignudo-
g

Ignudo-g

Ignudo-
h

Ignudo-h

Judith and
Holofernes

Judith and Holofernes

Punishment of
Haman

Punishment of Haman

The Brazen
Serpent

The Brazen Serpent

Zerubbabel
-Abiud-Eliakim

Zerubbabel-Abiud-Eliakim

Rehoboam-
Abijah

Rehoboam-Abijah

Uzziah-Jotham-
Ahaz

Uzziah-Jotham-Ahaz


Nahshon

Nahshon

Josiah-
Jechoniah-

Josiah-Jechoniah-Shealtiel

Jesse-David-
Solomon

Jesse-David-Solomon

Jacob-
Joseph

Jacob-Joseph

Hezekiah-
Manasseh-

Hezekiah-Manasseh-Amon

Eleazar-
Matthan

Eleazar-Matthan

Azor-
Zadok

Azor-Zadok

Asa-Jehoshaphat-
Joram

Asa-Jehoshaphat-Joram


Amminadab

Amminadab

Achim-
Eliud

Achim-Eliud

Salom
Boaz Obet

Salom Boaz Obet