Michelangelo is the world’s greatest Italian artist and sculptor

Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel Ceiling The Delphic Sibyl, 1509
Sistine Chapel Ceiling The Delphic Sibyl, 1509

Michelangelo ‘s works were recognized as masterpieces during the lifetime of the brilliant master, and he himself was the first of the figures of European art to receive the honor of writing a detailed biography.

Michelangelo lived a long life full of interesting events and made a huge contribution to world culture. His name is on a par with two other greatest figures of the Renaissance: Raphael (Raffaello Santi) and Leonardo da Vinci (Leonardo da Vinci), and the artist’s brilliant works have been considered examples of excellence in the visual arts for 5 centuries.

Michelangelo, Salmon, 1509
Salmon, 1509

Michelangelo’s biography

He was the second child in the family of a hereditary banker of aristocratic origin Lodovico Buonarroti. The boy’s mother died when he was barely 6 years old and his father married a second time, and gave his son to the upbringing of the village couple Topolino. The young genius early learned to handle clay and showed remarkable talent for art.

In 1488, his father sent Michelangelo to study with the Florentine artist Domenico Ghirlandaio, who taught the boy the basics of painting. But the teenager was more interested in sculpture, so a year later he moved to the school of Bertoldo di Giovanni, which was patronized by the powerful Lorenzo de Medici. The omnipotent master of Florence immediately saw the boy’s talent and took him under his personal protection. But in 1492 Lorenzo died, and Michelangelo was forced to return home to his father.

Michelangelo, The Prophet Isaiah 1509
The Prophet Isaiah 1509

1495 became a landmark in the artist’s life. He received the first major order for the production of sculptural compositions for the reliquary of St. Dominic in Bologna and gained fame throughout Italy. In 1496, at the invitation of Cardinal Raffaele Riario, Michelangelo moved to Rome and lived there for 5 years, creating numerous sculptures for the papal throne and city temples.

Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel Ceiling, Cumaean Sibyl, 1510
Sistine Chapel Ceiling, Cumaean Sibyl, 1510

Throughout his life, Michelangelo often moved from Florence to Rome and back.

He was invited to the capital by the head of the Catholic Church and made large orders. In total, the artist had to collaborate with nine popes, each of whom highly appreciated the genius.

In addition to sculptural work, Michelangelo devoted a lot of time to creating frescoes. The master was engaged in painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for 4 years, but the result exceeded the wildest expectations of the customers. This grandiose composition includes more than 300 carefully drawn figures and is admired by millions of tourists visiting Rome every year.

Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel Ceiling, Libyan Sibyl, 1510
Sistine Chapel Ceiling, Libyan Sibyl, 1510

Michelangelo also made a significant contribution to world literature. He left to descendants more than 300 sonnets on a love and philosophical theme. The master devoted almost all of his poems to the poetess Vittoria Colonna, with whom he was friends for about 40 years. But their relationship was purely platonic, Michelangelo never married and carefully hid his personal life from strangers.

The Prophet Ezekiel 1510
The Prophet Ezekiel 1510

Since the mid-1540s, the artist has received a large number of architectural orders.

Among the famous works of the master are the creation of the palace facade of the Palazzo Farnese and the new decoration of the Roman Capitol. But the worldwide fame of the genius was brought by his main architectural creation St. Peter’s Cathedral.

It was Michelangelo who came up with the main idea for the project of the famous central domed building. In total, he supervised the architectural work in the main Catholic church in the world for 18 years, and the construction of the cathedral was completed after the death of the genius at the beginning of the 17th century.

Sistine Chapel Ceiling, Judith Carrying the Head of Holofernes. 1512
Sistine Chapel Ceiling, Judith Carrying the Head of Holofernes. 1512

Michelangelo’s artistic heritage in painting is noticeably inferior in volume to numerous sculptural and architectural works. Only a few paintings by the great master have survived to this day, of which he was not particularly proud. But the brilliant artist left to the descendants a huge number of sketches made with his own hand. He created them in the hundreds, working on sculptures and architectural projects throughout his life. Drawings of the genius still amaze connoisseurs of art with the majesty of forms and nobility of style.

Michelangelo died on February 18, 1564 at the age of 88. After the death of the master, Pope Pius IV gave orders to build a magnificent tomb for him in St. Peter’s Basilica, but these plans were not destined to come true. The body of the genius was transported to Florence 5 months later and was buried with great honor in the Basilica of Santa Croce, next to the remains of another great Italian, Niccolò Machiavelli.

Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel Ceiling, The Prophet Joel 1509
Sistine Chapel Ceiling, The Prophet Joel 1509
Five famous artists worked on the creation of the unique tomb of Michelangelo:
  • Giorgio Vasari;
  • Battista Lorenzi
  • Giovanni della Opera;
  • Valerio Cioli;
  • Giovanni Battista Naldini.
Michelangelo, The Ancestors of Christ Jesse, 1509
The Ancestors of Christ Jesse, 1509
The most famous works of Michelangelo

Many of Michelangelo’s works are well known to every educated person. They have long been ranked among the greatest masterpieces of world art and are considered truly priceless. Among the creations of the genius, the following works stand out:

  • The Pieta (Lamentation of Christ) (1499) is the artist’s first and most famous Pieta, a complex sculptural composition impeccably worked out to the smallest detail. Copies of this work today adorn dozens of Catholic churches around the world.
  • “David” (1504) a huge five-meter statue of a circular view, a grandiose symbol of the art of the Renaissance. According to legend, Michelangelo liked this work so much that he exclaimed in his hearts, addressing the hero depicted: “Why are you silent!” For almost 370 years, the statue adorned the square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, and today it is located in the Academy of Fine Arts.
  • The painting of the vault of the Sistine Chapel (1508-1512) is a large-scale fresco on the theme of the Old Testament in the central hall of an ancient building.
  • The most popular among tourists exhibit among all the Vatican museums and the pride of the Catholic Church “Moses” (1515) is the central statue of the tomb of Pope Julius IV. The Old Testament prophet is depicted in an original manner with two small bone growths on his head. According to art critics, this is due to an incorrect translation from the Hebrew of the word cornuta (“horned” instead of “radiant”) in the Bibles of the 16th century.
  • “The Dome of St. Peter’s Church” (1546-1564) is the greatest architectural masterpiece of genius, the most grandiose part of the sacred building for Catholics throughout the Earth and the tallest dome in the world. The master’s work was finally completed by his students 26 years after the artist’s death.
Michelangelo, The Ancestors of Christ Josias 1509
The Ancestors of Christ Josias 1509
The Ancestors of Christ, David, Solomon, 1511
The Ancestors of Christ, David, Solomon, 1511
The Prophet Daniel 1511
The Prophet Daniel 1511
The Prophet Jonah, 1511
The Prophet Jonah, 1511
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