Sign up
Biography and information
Michelangelo is one of the three greatest painters of the Renaissance art period, alongside Raphael and Leonardo, and he was entitled Il Divino. He was born in Caprese, near Florence, in 1475, and died in Rome in 1564. He became a vaunted and praised artist, even in his early life, for his abundant talent in many fields — he considered himself to be primarily a sculptor, but his complete work of art is among the crowning deeds of mankind, and his writings and poems are delicate and intriguing pieces of literature.

Famous Artwork

Michelangelo caught the eye of public as a prodigious teenage artist, back in Florence, and came under the patronage of Lorenzo de' Medici. He got his first commission in Rome to sculpt Pieta in 1500 for the chapel near St. Peter’s Cathedral, and he was inspired by sermons of Girolamo Savonarola`s sermons and his appeal for the religious renewal.

His next big commission was David (1504), made for a chapel in Florence when he was just 29 years old. He was obliged to use the marble block that had been previously damaged by another artist, and had to retain its dimensions by every inch. He carved the figure with a powerfully realistic overall effect — the restful yet dramatic posture, and the expressive totality, without emphasizing the particular details. This early work already announces the core of Michelangelo’s work — the harmonious unity of contrasting elements.

In the same year, he was hired to accomplish The Battle of Cascina mural in the Florence city hall gallery, with Leonardo da Vinci doing another one at the same hall. This epic rally of the two genius artists, with public outbursts of insults from Michelangelo, and Leonardo’s notions about covering the David statue, produced yet another famous artwork for the both sides.

After this success, Michelangelo was hired by Pope Julius II to undertake a vast project of painting the ceiling of Sistine Chapel in Vatican, which began in 1508 and lasted until 1512. The central theme was the creation of the world and of man, as in The Creation of Adam. The man’s fall from grace is the theme that he will pick up almost thirty years later, painting the Judgment (1536−1541) on the back wall of the chapel. He created more than 500 figures for both pieces, on wet plaster, with no or very little assistance from the apprentices.

One of the most popular statues among his complete work is the statue of Moses (1513−15) commissioned for the tomb of Pope Julius II, a monumental figure of the prophet holding the tablets of the Ten Commandments.

The Holy Family (around 1507) painting, now at The Uffizi Gallery, with its meticulous art style and expressive movement, will later influence the art style of the Florentine Mannerism painters.

Michelangelo designed the interior of The Tomb of Giuliano de' Medici, in the Medici family chapel, and he also carved the large figures of Day, Night, Dusk and Dawn on the tombs, as the personification of the unceasing circle of life and history.

Michelangelo constructed the St. Peter’s Cathedral dome, following the previous plans of famous Bramante, but modifying it to a Florentine, ribbed cupola type. He also made the architectural plans for the Laurentian Library and the fortification during the siege of Florence in 1529.

Ideas and Influences

Michelangelo acquired anatomy knowledge from the frequent visits to Florence’s morgues in his early life, where he sketched bodies, loosen limbs, and intertwined muscles. But it is the marble carving that will help Michelangelo to shape himself as an artist. For he carefully considered every piece of stone and its history, trying to spot the figure that was already in it, captured and craving to be free. He experimented with marble, leaving some parts of it, inducing this dynamical and invisible game to life, the technique later explored and used by Auguste Rodin.

Renaissance Art

The Renaissance art brought a profound change in man’s way of perceiving the life and the world. This "rebirth" of pondering into nature, world, and art, also raised the interest for the ancient civilization and classical art forms. The center of all the main happenings for the artists was Florence, where these new ideas flourished starting from 1420.

The painting and sculpting style developed by Michelangelo, with its proportions, powerful, though restrained gestures, stands for universal, idealistic truths of the humanistic concepts of spirit, intellect, faith and art in harmonious unity.

Personal life of the Artist

After his mother’s death, Michelangelo was taken and brought up by his nurse and her family of stonecutters in a little mountain village. It was there that he first came to touch the marble, the hammer and the chisel.

His life story is one of a constant struggle, and his religious beliefs often clashed with his wild and tumultuous nature. In his poems, Michelangelo described himself as a grand sinner, and even painted himself as a face on the flayed skin of St. Bartholomew in the Last Judgment fresco.

Although the vast part of correspondence is saved, and two biographies were published during the artist’s lifetime, there are no records of his affairs, or anything resembling the carnal love. In his last poems he confessed about his affiliation solely to the Muse of art.
Read more
Artworks liked by

To post comments log in or sign up.
Write comments
Discuss user publications and actions. Add the required photos, videos or sound files to comments.
Michelangelo Buonarroti. Madonna del Silenzio
Madonna del Silenzio
Michelangelo Buonarroti
1538, 21.7×16.5 cm
To post comments log in or sign up.
Whole feed
Artworks by the artist
235 artworks total
1511, 570×280 cm
1511, 28×21 cm
1512, 400×380 cm
1530-th , 137×120 cm
1508, 280×570 cm
View 235 artworks by the artist