Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, was a very influential man of his time and of all time. Michelangelo was born on March 6, 1475, in a small village a part of the Florentine territory known as Caprese. His father originally did not support his artistic ability, but just a while after Michelangelo’s 13th birthday, his father allowed him to be an apprentice for a famous painter, Domenico Ghirlandaio. Unfortunately there was some conflict between Michelangelo and Ghirlandaio so after a year Michelangelo was no longer his apprentice and he denies Ghirlandaio influenced his works.
Later he stayed with the very powerful Medici family for two years. Lorenzo de’ Medici was a great patron of the arts who gave Michelangelo a chance to expand his artistic talents. He learned his sculpting skills from Bertoldo di Giovanni, who was trained by the great Donatello. He also expanded his education and gained knowledge of poetry and philosophy. Medici also had Michelangelo study the Classic Ancient Roman and Greek arts. Michelangelo became so excellent in Classic Roman arts that his works passed as Roman originals. Due to his talents in the ancient art Michelangelo was present at the excavation of the giant sculpture of Laocoon.
Michelangelo was a very religious man which is shown in many of his paintings. Later in his career he portrayed a bit more of his own idea of Christianity in his works.
His patrons that supported Michelangelo all showed how great his works were. All of them were very wealthy and very influential people of the time. Probably the most influential people of the time were the popes due to the strength of Christianity, and three of them supported Michelangelo’s work. One piece Michelangelo did for the church was the Pieta in Saint Peter’s Basilica. It pictures Christ on his mother’s lap after he was taken down off of the cross he was crucified on. The work included great detail like all of his work, but the best thing about his work is exaggerating certain areas of the painting to give a message or tell a story. This piece was also very well finished even to Michelangelo’s standards.
Another very well known work of Michelangelo was the painting of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. This project took four years to complete due to the detail and the size of the project. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel incorporates many different stories and beliefs from the bible in one large mural. The stories painted are in the same order as in the bible. It began with the story of Genesis and ended with the story of Noah and his ark. It also portrayed other smaller stories in the corners and pictures of prophets and Christ’s ancestors in the framework around the windows.
Michelangelo also created several architectural works. One example was the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica. Michelangelo had to complete the dome after the death of his rival Donato Bramante. He designed the dome off of Bramante’s original plan but made the dome more structurally sound and made it very decorative like he was so well known for.
His last architectural work was the Piazza del Campidoglio. This building was the heart of Rome and Michelangelo understood that when he added sculptures of great leaders of Ancient Rome. He designed the building to bring back the strength of Ancient Rome and made the buildings a classic Roman design. The building was symmetrical with flowing curves, yet still was a very functional public building. Michelangelo died in 1564 and unfortunately did not get to see the finished work.
I feel that Michelangelo was an incredible architect, painter and sculptor. I had a chance to see some of his works in Italy and the detail was incredible. His art seemed flawless without any mistake on it. The sizes of his sculptures were massive and it was hard to believe that a single piece of marble was made into such a great work of art. I personally do not care for art, but the greatness of his work was unbelievable.
“Michelangelo,” Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2004
Michelangelo : Life, Letters, and Poetry (Oxford World’s Classics) – Author: George Anthony Bull (Editor), Peter Porter (Translator)
Michelangelo: The Vatican Frescoes – Author: Pierluigi De Vecchi