Michelangelo (di Lodovico) Buonarroti Simoni
By Pradyum Balaji
Due : April 19 2018
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (March 6 1475 – February 18 1564) was an Italian painter ,sculptor, architect, and also a poet who lived during the Italian Renaissance period. Visual arts such as architecture, painting, and sculpting were very popular at this time. At the end of this period, the Italian Renaissance had made several achievements in the visual arts, philosophy, literature (including poetry), music, science, and exploration. Michelangelo was a unique figurative idol in the history of the world as he attained the highest standards and levels of the three arts of sculpture, painting (Frescoes, mosaics, portraits, and perspective figure drawings and scenes), and architecture. He was the only man to accomplish this feat. He lived out much of his life in Rome, and is responsible for most of the magnificent buildings we see in Rome today.
Nearly all of Michelangelo’s works are to be found in Rome. He also is known for his earliest works and commissions, which were created in Italian cities. Examples of these cities include Florence, Bologna, and Venice. These commissions were small and his more famous works appeared shortly after the start of 1496 (His first visit to Rome). Some of his famous works include the Bacchus (Roman name for the Greek god of wine. In Greece he is called Dionysus) , the Roman Pieta, the sculpture of David, the Doni Madonna, the Taddei Tondo, the painting of the battle of Cascina, the Bruges Madonna, portrait of Pope Julius II, tomb to Pope Julius II, the Sistine Chapel ceiling, sculpture of Prophet Moses, etc. During his 88 year lifetime he had never travelled outside the borders of Italy. In 1564, February 16, he caught a high fever and died just two days later. Today his popularity has spread to different continents of the world.
Michelangelo was born on March 6 1475 in Caprese, Italy now known by the famous and popular name Caprese Michelangelo in the honour of Michelangelo himself. By the time Michelangelo was born, his father Leonardo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was a podesta (Judicial administrator) of a town situated in the area of Alpe di Catenaia, a city in Tuscany, Italy. However in the course of time, his family returned to Florence several months after his birth. His mother, Francesca di Neri del Miniato di Siena passed away on 1481 when Michelangelo was six years old. Shortly after his mother’s death, Michelangelo was sent to live with a nanny and her husband in the town, Settignano. Her husband held the ordinary profession of a stonecutter. From his early age, Michelangelo visioned art as a career for himself much to the disappointment of his father who felt that a career in art would ruin the reputation and respect he had built up for his family as a government podesta.
In the year 1488 (when Michelangelo was at thirteen years of age,) Michelangelo travelled to the city of Florence where he studied Humanism under Francesco da Urbino. He never showed his interests in his schooling and preferred to spend his time with painters and copy paintings from churches. Eventually, his father had to give in and had him apprenticed to master painter, Domenico Ghirlandaio. Ghirlandaio was a famous fresco painter, and was an expert in perspective, portraiture, and figure drawing. When Michelangelo turned fourteen, his father convinced Ghirlandaio to offer payment to his son. His talent caught the eye of Lorenzo de’ Medici of the Medici Household. He lived there from 1490- 92 as he showed of marvellous paintings and also learned the art of sculpting under master sculptor, Bertoldo di Giovanni. The beginning of his career was at the end of 1492. His days of youth would become his days of adulthood on that special year.
Michelangelo enjoyed a period of prosperity as an artist, and was respected greatly by the people of Rome, Florence, Caprese, Venice, and Bologna. As time would go on, people outside of Italy would recognize him as an extraordinary artist. However, he like all artists faced many obstacles, and challenges before, and during his career. When Michelangelo was young, he was often pressured by his father to never assume a career in art. His father, who was respected as a government podesta of the Alpe de Catenaia area would discourage his son and try to persuade and force him to take up a more stable and honourable career. He hoped that eventually, Michelangelo would give in and the respect of his family would be thus protected. However, a determined Michelangelo persisted for many years until finally in 1488 his father had to give in himself and had to support his son.
When apprenticed to Domenico Ghirlandaio, he would become a star pupil, and made his rivals angry. His rivals tried to use physical force to slowly lead him away from an artistic career. Instead, he would become a renowned artistic idol and master. And as he grew older, he would work for the powerful and respected popes of Rome. His early works were criticised by rivals and others and popes refused to defend his work from the criticism. One pope, Pope Julius II even refused to pay him for his hard work for many years. In 1527, when Florence was sieged by Rome for ten years, Michelangelo knew that Florence could never last the siege. He immediately left Rome’s side and designed a military wall for Florence. Florence thus lasted the siege and Michelangelo’s home city was safe. Michelangelo was forgiven by the pope and he continued to work for Rome. As he grew older and weaker, he couldn’t walk to his workplace and became frail. Michelangelo, however worked from home, and spent long hours painting instead of getting rest. Just two days before his death he started new paintings. Although he never go to complete them, his very final and yet unfinished paintings were indicators of his artistic determination. This determination of his helped him overcome all obstacles that came in his way and it it an inspiration to both artists and those who wish to become artists today.
Michelangelo is renowned as the only man to achieve top standards in the arts, painting, sculpture, and architecture, a record which hasn’t been broken today. Despite this main accomplishment of his, the rest of Michelangelo’s accomplishments are all his lifetime works. His very first works were small works. Examples include the Head of a Faun,(1489)created when he was a student which he finished in 1494, the Battle of Lapiths and Centaurs (1491-1492), the Young Archer, done in 1492, and his first completed work, the Madonna of the Steps/Stairs (1491)1. All of these were sculptures and were his earliest works when he was yet a student. His better works sprang in 1492 and examples include paintings such as the Entombment, 1500-1501, London, and others such as the lost painting, the Battle of Cascina (1503),, the Donni Madonna (1503-04), which can be found in Florence, and many more.
Most of his famous works lie in Rome however. They include the Bacchus (1496-97), a sculpture of the Greek God of wine, and the Rome Pieta (1497-1500). Other works were created in Florence such as the Bruges Madonna (1503-5), and other Florentine works such as the David (1501-1504) and more. When called to Rome by Pope Julius II, he started work on a tomb for the pope in 1505 which was finished in 1545. However in 1505, Michelangelo got into an argument with the pope and angrily left Rome as his work wasn’t receiving payment from the Church. In 1506, he started his work on a carving of St. Matthews in Florence. After much force by Pope Julius II, Michelangelo agreed to return to Rome and was forgiven by the Pope. His St. Matthews sculpture was installed on 1508 in the Florence Cathedral. He also worked towards making an over-life-size portrait statue of Pope Julius II (1507-08) which stood in the city gates of Bologna. However when papal authority was overthrown in Bologna, the sculpture was melted to create a cannon called the “La Giulia” in honour of the pope. He worked towards other accomplishments as well such as the Florentine Wall (1527-1530), and the Dying Slave, the Rebellious slave and sculpture of Moses, completed within the space of 8 years. He is most well known for his architectural design, the tomb of Lorenzo de’ Medici, his host from 1490.
When Michelangelo passed away in 1564 at the age of 88 due to a sudden illness that sprang up two days before he died. He left behind a small legacy after he died. A legacy that would over time grow into a way of life for artists and an inspiration to all. Michelangelo and his fellow artists were so influencing that immediately after their death, their greatness had spread across nearly the entire European region. Different artistic trends appeared in Europe during the late Renaissance period. For example, popular art styles such as Mannerism, and Realism, artistic forms and decorative styles that popularized during Michelangelo’s lifetime. Mannerism included very high Renaissance ideas in art. Realism depicted scenes linked to everyday life and reality instead of fiction and non-realism such as Mythological and Classical scenes. The Baroque was probably the most popular style of art left behind by Michelangelo and is respected in Spain, Northern Europe, and Italy. In the beginning of Michelangelo’s influence, Spain had defeated much of Europe at this time (Until they were defeated by England in 1588), and Michelangelo’s work was greatly respected by Spain in early times, thus receiving the respect of almost the entire region of Europe. His influence quickly spread across Europe, and eventually across the seas to places where it would be recognized as great. Today his artistic styles have shaped our modern day art and his styles have been practised all around the world on special occasions and events.
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