Michelangelo Buonarroti (aka “Michelangelo”)
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simono, known simply as Michelangelo, was born in Italy in the late 1400s. His gift for depicting human anatomy on canvas and in sculptures brought him global recognition, and his work is still on display today.
Michelangelo Buonarroti was born Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni in the city of Caprese, Italy, where his father was serving as a magistrate. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Florence, their permanent home, where he was to spend his early years. His interest in art was discovered early, leading to his apprenticeship with a painter’s workshop at the age of thirteen, followed by the chance to study sculpture a year later in the Medici gardens at the palace of the ruler of Florence. While at the Medici Palace, he was exposed to the city’s elite and granted permission to study cadavers to further his knowledge of anatomy. This study led to the development of a precise style when representing figures, where the muscles in motion are clearly defined to add realism to the pieces.
Michelangelo’s career began early. At the age of sixteen, he was already producing sculptures that presented his accurate representation of figures, such as his Madonna Seated on a Step. Political difficulties in the region caused him to flee Florence, and he moved around for a while until he settled in Rome in 1498. Rome proved to be fertile ground for Michelangelo’s work. It was during this period that his sculpture, the Pieta , was commissioned by a French cardinal living in Rome. The piece is an incredibly detailed work featuring Jesus being held in Mary’s lap after His death. The sculpture was completed in 1497. The completion of the Pieta soon saw a return of Michelangelo to Florence for further commissions. One of these newer works was for the statue of David. The statue had been attempted and abandoned by two previous artists, but Michelangelo completed the job, creating a seventeen-foot tall figure that’s considered one of his masterpieces and admired by visitors to the city each year. David was completed in 1504. After David, Michelangelo was in high demand. One of his new commissions was the tomb of Pope Julius II, but upon the Pope’s request, Michelangelo agreed in 1508 to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel instead. Much of the work was completed by Michelangelo alone. The chapel was finally completed and shown on October 31, 1512.
- The Pieta is the only piece by Michelangelo to have his name placed onto it.
- The original plan for the Sistine Chapel called for a painting featuring the twelve apostles only, but the scope of the project grew to more than 300 figures.
- The Sistine Chapel had to be painted twice due to a fungus which destroyed the original plaster.