Michelanglo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni March 6 1475 - February 18 1564
Michelangelo Early Life
Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet and engineer.
He was born in 1475 in Caprese near Arezzo, Tuscany
At the age of 7, he was sent to live with a stonecutter and his family in Settignano.
His father sent him to study with a tutor, but he was more interested in art. When he was 13, he was apprenticed to a painter named Domenico Ghirlandaio.
French word meaning Rebirth
Cultural movement that began in Florence, Italy in the 14 th century that later spread to the rest of Europe. It lasted until about the 17 th century.
Renewed interest in classical history and learning and for Renaissance men like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci
Portrait of Michelangelo in chalk by Daniele da Volterra
His nose was broken in a fight with another art student when he was 17 and all of his portraits show his broken nose.
Michelangelo about the time he painted the Sistine Chapel
He was considered arrogant and was very often not satisfied with his own work.
Michelangelo believed that nature was an enemy to overcome.
He believed that the sculptor’s job was to release the form that was already inside the stone and remove everything that was not part of the statue.
Michelangelo became very famous after the he painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling and was regarded as the greatest living artist of his time. He was 37 and Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael were alive at this time.
Two biographies were written about him while he was alive. The second one was written by his pupil and is thought to be almost an autobiography.
He received a number of commissions from the powerful de’Medici family. He also worked for several Popes.
He very often had creative differences with his patrons.
He agreed to create a tomb for Pope Julius II, but the project kept being interrupted by requests from successive Popes. It was finally finished after about 40 years.
“ I cannot live under pressures from Patrons, let alone paint.”
Michelangelo, quoted in Vasari’s Lives of the Artists
When Michelangelo was a child, his mother became ill and couldn’t care for him, so he was sent to live with a stonecutter. Michelangelo later joked that this is where he learned to love cutting stone into sculpture.
He spent years studying the human body. He even looked at dead bodies so he could learn the way the muscles and bones were attached and how arms and legs moved.
He drew sketches of people, concentrating on getting the muscles just right. His sketches of bodies helped him to do sculpture.
Do you see how he drew muscles here? What other body parts did he study in this drawing?
Michelangelo was very religious, and many of his masterpieces show religious scenes or people from the Bible.
One of his most famous sculptures was David, the biblical hero who defeated the giant Goliath. The work was finished in the year 1504.
This is a close-up of David. He is said to have a “worried look” here because he is about to face the giant Goliath in battle.
Michelangelo lived in Florence, Italy, and he wanted the citizens there to be like David and stand up for themselves.
The statue of David is more than 14 feet tall. That’s taller than 2 men stacked on top of each other’s shoulders!
Is David’s hair curly or straight? How can you tell? (Remember, he is all made of marble stone!)
Michelangelo believed that there was a sculpture in every piece of stone. He tried to let the stone speak to him and become what it was meant to be. His job as the artist was to “free” the sculpture from the stone.
Do you see how this sculpture is trying to free itself? This sculpture is called The Blockhead Slave. Why do you think that?
Pietà 1499 located in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome
This sculpture is called the “Pieta” Some people consider this the finest sculpture ever made by anyone!
Michelangelo created the Pieta between the years 1498 and 1500. He was about 25 years old when it was finished.
Look at the skirt. Can you believe that it is made of hard marble stone?
What makes it look like real fabric?
The Pieta by Michelangelo, a work of the High Renaissance, was criticized by his detractors who thought the Virgin appeared too young. Michelangelo explained that she was so young because her purity kept her from aging. He had made a girl’s face intentionally. Neither does Michelangelo depict Christ in the manner which one might expect of one recently crucified in The Pieta, but relatively unscathed by the ordeal of his traumatic manner of death. The Pieta by Michelangelo shows a Virgin, whose calm, serene dignity in life is echoed by the same qualities in the face of Christ, intended to elicit empathy from the viewer.
The Pieta is carved from white marble and stands 6 feet 5/8; inches high. Look at he difference in scale between the Virgin and the Christ lying across her knees. See how wide the Virgin’s shoulders are. Compare her hands with those of Jesus. What about that huge pillar (the Virgin’s leg) that supports the “little” Jesus? Proportionally Mary would be 8 feet tall in real life. Michelangelo begun with his fascination for the cross design—the Virgin vertical, Christ horizontal. The Virgin’s narrow body did not have enough mass, even with all the drapery, to fill out the areas left and right of Christ’s body if it was going to lie completely lengthwise in her lap. He had to widen her body and hide its gigantic size as he could. And to reduce in scale the body of Jesus, which is perfect according to its own laws but much too small–doll-like—by comparison with the Virgin’s.
The Pieta is the only work signed by Michelangelo. The Pieta is signed by the artist on a sash across the chest of the Virgin. Michelangelo is reported to have overheard a discussion by Vatican visitors crediting The Pieta to the hand of another artist. After dark, he secretly entered the Vatican and carved his signature into the Virgin's sash with the words: ”Michaelangelus Bonarotus Florentinus Faciebat" or "This was made by Florentine Michelangelo Buonarroti."
Pietà c. 1550
This Pietà was carved nearly 50 years later and was thought to be for his own tomb.
Mary, Mary Magdalene and Nicodemus are supporting the body of Christ.
Pietà - Rome Pietà - Florence
In 1972, the “Pietà” was attacked by a hammer-wielding, Hungarian-born geologist. The 33-year-old Laszlo Toth yelled, “I am Jesus Christ!” as he attacked the famous sculpture. As a result, the sculpture is now protected by bullet-proof glass, after undergoing repairs. However, the attack may actually have been beneficial in a way, as the restorers discovered what appears to be a secret monogram: an “M” in the skin lines on the palm of Mary’s left hand.
St. Peter’s Basilica
Michelangelo was also an architect and designed this building, called the Campidoglio, which was the seat of the civic government in Rome. He helped design the most impressive building in Rome, too!
Michelangelo's crowning achievement as an architect was his work at St. Peter’s Basilica, where he was made chief architect in 1546.
The building was originally designed by Donato Bramante, but Michelangelo became responsible for the outside (exterior) and for the dome.
Michelangelo was in his 70s when he worked on the basilica, and he refused to accept any payment for it, saying it was his service to God.
For the dome's exterior, Michelangelo used a ribbed design with columns.
He first created a model out of wood. You can still see the model today on display in Rome (at the Vatican).
The model is 17 feet 8 inches high x 12 feet 8 inches in diameter. That’s almost as tall as 3 men on each other’s shoulders!
The real dome is 265 feet high x 190 feet in diameter!
And of course, the ceiling is painted!
In 1508, Michelangelo was asked by the pope to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
Michelangelo, who always thought of himself as a sculptor, would now have to perfect the art of fresco, which is painting on plaster.
After 4 years, he had painted over 300 figures on the ceiling.
The project was very hard for Michelangelo. Can you imagine lying on your back on a scaffold to paint a huge ceiling every day for 4 years?
Michelangelo painted many Bible scenes on the chapel ceiling.
One of the most famous is God creating Adam. How does it look like Adam was created in this picture?
The artist may have gotten this idea of creation from a medieval hymn (or song), which asks the 'finger of the father’s right hand' to give the faithful people speech, love, and strength.
What makes the hands look so real here?
This painting of the fingers touching is very famous.
The fingers pointing painting has inspired many similar things, including this movie poster!
This is another famous image from the chapel known as the Delphic Sybil.
Sybils were women who were prophets, or foretold the future.
What colors do you see here? These colors didn’t use to be so bright.
Years of candle smoke in the chapel made the frescoes dirty and dingy.
All the ceiling artwork was carefully restored between 1980 and 1999. Some people say the restored colors were not Michelangelo’s intention.
Here is a “before and after” photo of the figure of Daniel.
The Creation of the Heavens
The Erythraean Sibyl
The Fall From Grace
The Prophet Zachariah
The Last Judgement
In Rome, in 1536, Michelangelo was at work on the Last Judgment for the alter wall of the Sistine Chapel, which he finished in 1541. The largest fresco of the Renaissance, it depicts Judgment Day. Christ, with a clap of thunder, puts into motion the inevitable separation, with the saved ascending on the left side of the painting and the damned descending on the right into a Dantesque hell. As was his custom, Michelangelo portrayed all the figures nude, but prudish draperies were added by another artist (who was dubbed the “breeches-maker”) a decade later, as the cultural climate became more conservative. Michelangelo painted his own image in the flayed skin of St. Bartholomew.
The Last Judgement
If you were going to paint a whole ceiling with pictures, how many would you paint? Of what?
Draw a plan for a ceiling’s worth of pictures. This is an actual map of the paintings on the Sistine Chapel.
Imagine lying on your back to paint all your pictures!