- NAME: Michelangelo
- OCCUPATION: Architect, Painter, Sculptor, Poet
- BIRTH DATE: March 06, 1475
- DEATH DATE: February 18, 1564
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Caprese (Republic of Florence), Italy
- PLACE OF DEATH: Rome, Italy
- Full Name: Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni
- AKA: Michelangelo Buonarroti
- Nickname: "Father and Master of All the Arts"
- AKA: Michelangelo
Best Known For
Michelangelo is widely regarded as the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance. Among his works are the David and Pieta statues and the Sistine Chapel frescoes.
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A short biography of Michelangelo, one of the greatest artistic geniuses who ever lived. His works are numerous, and include The David, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and the Pieta.
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Political strife in the aftermath of Lorenzo the Magnificent’s death led Michelangelo to flee to Bologna, where he continued his study. He returned to Florence in 1495 to begin work as a sculptor, modeling his style after masterpieces of classical antiquity.
There are several versions of an intriguing story about Michelangelo's Cupid sculpture, which was artificially "aged" to resemble a rare antique: One version claims that Michelangelo aged the statue to achieve a certain patina,
and another version claims that his art dealer buried the sculpture (an "aging" method) before attempting to pass it off as an antique.
Cardinal Riario of San Giorgio bought the Cupid sculpture, believing it as such, and demanded his money back when he discovered he'd been duped. Strangely, in the end, Riario was so impressed with Michelangelo's work that he let the artist keep the money. The cardinal even invited the artist to Rome, where Michelangelo would live and work for the rest of his life.
Not long after Michelangelo's relocation to Rome in 1498, his fledgling career was bolstered by another cardinal, Jean Bilhères de Lagraulas, a representative of the French King Charles VIII to the pope. Michelangelo's Pieta, a sculpture of Mary holding the dead Jesus across her lap, was finished in less than one year, and was erected in the church of the cardinal's tomb. At six feet wide and nearly as tall, the statue has been moved five times since, to its present place of prominence St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.
Carved from a single piece of Carrara marble, the fluidity of the fabric, positions of the subjects, and "movement" of the skin of the Pieta -- meaning "pity" or "compassion" -- created awe for its early spectators. Today, the Pieta remains an incredibly revered work. Michelangelo was just 25 years old at the time.
Legend has it that he overheard pilgrims attribute the work to another sculptor, so he boldly carved his signature in the sash across Mary's chest. It is the only work to bear his name.
By the time Michelangelo returned to Florence, he had become something of an art star. He took over a commission for a statue of David, which two prior sculptors had previously attempted and abandoned, and turned the 17-foot piece of marble into a dominating figure. The strength of the statue's sinews, vulnerability of its nakedness, humanity of expression and overall courage made the David a prized representative of the city of Florence.
Several commissions followed, including an ambitious project for the tomb of Pope Julius II, but that was interrupted when he asked Michelangelo to switch from sculpting to painting to decorate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The project fueled Michelangelo’s imagination, and the original plan for 12 apostles morphed into more than 300 figures on the ceiling of the sacred space. (The work later had to be completely removed soon after due to an infectious fungus in the plaster, and then recreated.) Michelangelo fired all of his assistants, whom he deemed inept, and completed the 65-foot ceiling alone, spending endless hours on his back and guarding the project jealously until revealing the finished work, on October 31, 1512.
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