Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, better known as Michelangelo, was born on March 6, 1475 in Caprese, near the town of Arezzo. He was the second of five sons to parents Ludovico di Leonardo di Buonarotto Simoni and Francesca Neri, who were both natives of Florence. A few weeks after Michelangelo’s birth, his family moved back to Florence after his father’s term as mayor ended in Caprese. When they arrived, his mother was found too frail to nurse him, so his parents sent him to a wet-nurse that lived on their farm a few miles away in Settignano.
While he was a baby, he was surrounded by his wet-nurse’s husband and father, who were both stonemasons. He later claimed that “with my wet-nurse’s milk, I sucked in the hammer and chisels I use for my statues” (Horowitz). Throughout his young years he was sent to study grammar with humanist Francesco da Urbino, however he showed no interest and instead began to copy paintings he saw at churches and around town. At age 13, Michelangelo surprised and upset his father when he left grammar school and accepted an apprenticeship at the workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio, a popular fresco artist in Florence.Order now
After studying the art of fresco for nearly a year while learning how to carve, Michelangelo caught the attention of Lorenzo de’ Medici, the ruler of Florence, who invited him to live at the Medici household. For two years, Michelangelo attended Lorenzo’s school, where he had the chance to meet multiple literary personalities such as Pico della Mirandola, and created both Madonna of the Steps (1490-1492) and Battle of the Centaurs (1491-1492). Shortly after Michelangelo’s completion of both of his artworks, Lorenzo passed away on April 8, 1492.
Michelangelo soon left the Medici house and returned back to his father’s house (“The Complete Works”). Not long after returning home did the corruption of Florence occur. Italy was invaded by Charles VIII of France, which resulted in Michelangelo running to Venice in October of 1494. While living in Venice, Michelangelo was summoned to Rome as a result of the famous “Sleeping Cupid affair” where he created Bacchus and Pieta from marble. Pieta was the first piece to bring Michelangelo fame, due to its originality and remarkable beauty.
In 1501 he returned to Florence as not only Italy’s foremost sculptor, but also as a hero, and created the popular statue David¸ which symbolized his patriotic feelings during the difficult times in Italy. His statue of David was a model of heroic courage, which he had hoped the people of Florence would understand the message behind it. After the completion of both Pieta and David, Michelangelo was in popular demand. For the next 63 years he would go on to create much more artwork, such as the extremely popular Sistine Chapel paintings, which included Creation of Adam, and also painted the Last Judgment.
The Sistine Chapel is located inside of the Vatican, which is the home of the Pope. He spent many years there befriending the Pope, and being commissioned to do many art pieces. On February 18, 1564, Michelangelo passed away at the age of 88 after contracting a fever. His will contained three sentences that his friends Tommaso Cavalieri and Daniele da Volterra say said “his soul to God, his body to the earth, and his material possessions to his nearest relations. His body was entered in a sarcophagus in the church of Santi Apostoli, but was removed days later by his nephew Lionardo Buonarroti and then placed in Santa Croce, the place Michelangelo originally desired to be buried. It was said that Michelangelo’s influences throughout his career were both Lorenzo Ghiberti and Domenico Ghirlandaio who he had worked with, but also Bertoldo di Giovanni. I chose Michelangelo because I have been blessed to see many of his art pieces in person.
I have been to multiple cities in Italy, as well as visiting the Vatican. I was amazed with his pieces in the Sistine Chapel and also his piece Pieta, as it stood out among many in St. Peter’s Basilica due to the beautifully carved marble and the way it was displayed, alone behind glass with light shining just on the piece, decorated with beautiful walls. Pieta Pieta was created by Michelangelo from 1498-1500, and was finished when he was only 24 years old. It is housed inside of St. Peter’s Basilica which is located inside of the Vatican (“Pieta”).
Michelangelo used Northern ideals that were popular in other areas, but had not yet reached Italy. His version of Pieta is far different from any other version from his time, since he decided to use less pain and more serenity. The famous piece displays Mary holding Jesus’ lifeless body in her arms atop the rock of Golgotha after his crucifixion. It is said that Michelangelo did not want his version of the Pieta to represent death, only that he wanted to show his “religious vision of abandonment and a serene face of the Son. Both Mary and Jesus were created to look realistic and detailed, which gave it a humanistic look at classical beauty.
The entire sculpture is in the shape of a triangle, which represents the Holy Trinity. The value of the shading creates the humanistic features on Mary and Jesus. The smooth texture of the marble gives it a presence of calm, even though that wasn’t what was happening at the actual scene. Although Jesus was much larger than Mary in real life, Mary was sculpted larger than Jesus, knocking off proportions.
This symbolizes the weakness of Jesus and empowerment of Mary at that very moment. The way that Michelangelo formed the two bodies in sync created unity around the sculpture. With Mary slightly leaning her body to her left (our right), Michelangelo balanced out the statue by putting Jesus’ head and arm on the opposite side. Other artworks created during those two years were Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper and Gerard David’s The Judgment of Cambyses which were both finished in 1498. During the creation of Pieta, many events occurred throughout the world.
Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Trinidad, the mouth of Orinoco and explored the Gulf of Paria. During this time the Second Italian War began, and lasted from 1499 to 1504, which is the reason why Michelangelo fled Florence to Venice. This art piece made a lasting impression in the world by depicting a serene version of Mary and Jesus, as well as one of the first most famous marble statues. To this day it gets millions of views each year, where people stop to pray in front of it.
“The Complete Works.” Michelangelo Gallery. Web. 15 November 2014.
Horowitz, Charles. “The Life and Times of Michelangelo.” Indiana University. 2003. Web. 15 November 2014.
“Pieta.” Princeton. Web. 15 November 2014.