One of the most famous Renaissance painters, if not the greatest artist of all time, was Michelangelo, a sculptor, painter, and architect.
One of the most famous Renaissance painters, if not the greatest artist of all time, was Michelangelo, a sculptor, painter, and architect. His art had an intensity, physical reality, and psychological depth that had never before been seen. His contemporaries acknowledged Michelangelo's great genius. As a result, he was given commissions by some of the wealthiest and most influential people of his time, including popes and prominent members of the Catholic Church. Future generations will be able to observe and appreciate Michelangelo's creativity because of the meticulous care and preservation of his finished works, most notably his Pietà and David statues and his Sistine Chapel paintings. (Editors, 2019)
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On March 6, 1475, in Caprese, Italy, Michelangelo Buonarroti (Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni) was born. His father was a government official in Florence, and soon after his birth, the family moved back to Florence, which Michelangelo would always see as his actual home.
Florence was a thriving center for the arts during the Italian Renaissance, making it the ideal setting for Michelangelo's natural skills to emerge and thrive. When he was six years old, his mother passed away, and his father initially disapproved of his son's interest in art as a job.
At 13, Domenico Ghirlandaio, a painter most known for his murals, took on Michelangelo as an apprentice. A year later, Lorenzo de' Medici, Florence's most prominent citizen and patron of the arts, became aware of his abilities. Lorenzo de' Medici admired the cerebral stimulation of being surrounded by the city's most literate, lyrical, and gifted individuals. He invited Michelangelo to stay in one of his opulent home rooms.
The thinkers and authors in Lorenzo's intellectual circle taught Michelangelo. They motivated him, and what he learned about philosophy and politics during those years would always be present in his subsequent work. He further improved his skills while residing at the Medici residence under the guidance of Bertoldo di Giovanni, the caretaker of Lorenzo's collection of antique Roman sculptures and a renowned sculptor in his own right. Michelangelo used various techniques to showcase his creativity, but he always regarded sculpture as his primary medium. (Editors, 2019)
Michelangelo began construction on the Pope's tomb in Rome with a five-year deadline for completion. But after being bribed by the Pope for another commission, the artist would give up on the endeavor. According to rumors, Bramante, the architect in charge of rebuilding St. Peter's Basilica, persuaded the Pope that Michelangelo was the right candidate for the project of painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Given that Michelangelo was better known for his sculptures than his paintings and that Bramante was notoriously consumed by envy, Bramante was confident his rival would fail. He hoped that by doing this, the artist would lose favor with the public. Michelangelo reluctantly agreed to take on the project.
The next four years were spent by Michelangelo working on the Sistine Chapel. It was a demanding job that required extraordinary endurance, especially since the erratic artist had fired all but one of his assistants, who assisted him in mixing paint. The result was a magnificent work of genius that depicted Old Testament stories like the Creation of the World and Noah and the Flood. Contrary to Bramante's expectations, it turned out to be—and still is—one of the greatest works of Western art.
With Michelangelo and Leonardo vying for the commission to create a fresco for Pope Julius II's private library in 1508, the young, 26-year-old Raphael emerged as another notable rival. As Leonardo's health deteriorated, Raphael emerged as Michelangelo's greatest artistic foe. Raphael was frequently accused of plagiarism by Michelangelo because of his skill at portraying anatomy and his ability to paint nudity. Raphael disliked Michelangelo's animosity toward him despite being influenced by him. In response, he painted the artist in his well-known fresco, The School of Athens, sporting his customary sullen expression while posing as Heraclitus (1509–1511).
After Pope Julius II passed away in 1513, Pope Leo X hired Michelangelo to work on the Basilica of San Lorenzo's exterior, Florence's biggest church. Before the project was abandoned due to lack of funding, he worked on it for the following three years. He was given a second commission in 1520 for a Medici chapel in the Basilica of San Lorenzo and worked on it sporadically for the next 20 years. During those twenty years, he would also complete an architectural commission for the Laurentian Library.
Following Charles V's capture of Rome in 1527, Florence has proclaimed a republic and was besieged until 1530. Out of fear for his life, Michelangelo fled to Rome. He had contributed to the defense of Florence before the siege began. He received a new contract for the tomb of Pope Julius II from Pope Clement despite his support for the republic. Additionally, at this time, he received a seven-year commission to complete the fresco of the Last Judgment on the Sistine Chapel's altar wall. (The Art Story, n.d.)
He continued to work up to the last week of his life. Michelangelo spent most of his final years working at the Vatican as the project manager for St. Peter's Basilica. When he became too frail to remain on-site, Michelangelo continued to send plans and drawings from his house. He worked on his sculpture until the very end, even at home. (2021)
Editors, History. com. (2019, September 6). HISTORY. www.history.com. https://www.history.com/topics/renaissance/michelangelo
The Art Story. (n.d.). www.theartstory.org. Retrieved July 31, 2022, from https://www.theartstory.org/artist/michelangelo/
Art in context. (2021, August 31). artincontext.org. artincontext.org. https://artincontext.org/michelangelo-facts/