Michelangelo’s personality was considered to be pricky and arrogant, often dissatisfied with himself. He struggled between fulfilling commissions to support his family and his artistic pursuits. However, art was to him as silk is to the silkworm. Consequential to the High Renaissance his works are a testament to the power of man and his art.
“He who bears the palm of both the living and the dead, transcending and eclipsing all others, is the divine Michelangelo Buonarroti, who holds the sovereignty of not merely one of these arts, but of all three altogether," -The Lives of the Artist, Giorgio Vasari.
In his 1527 sketch of Michelangelo, Pablo Giovio wrote of the artist’s fame as nearly “equal to the ancients”. He took the technique of antiquity, blending it with traditional Florentine tradition, inventing his own unique style of expression. Today Michelangelo is universally deemed as one of the greatest artists of all time having an unequaled influence on the development of western art. A sculptor, painter, architect, and poet, Michelangelo was the archetype of the Renaissance Man; one who has interests, knowledge, and expertise in a wide variety of fields. His works in painting, sculpture, and architecture have endured tests of time, ranking amongst the most famous in existence. His career lasted over seventy years during which he explored and participated in various styles and changes.
Born in Caprese, 1475 in a family that descended from minor nobility but at the time of the Michelangelo, Buonarroti birth had lost its status. At that becoming an artist was seen as something as little more than being a servant and so Michelangelo’s aspirations were met with apprehensions from his family. He, however, defying the objections became an apprentice to one of the most esteemed painters of the time Domenico Ghirlandaio, and later as a sculptor under Lorenzo de Medici, whose social circle of poets and intellectuals enriched Michelangelo’s growth. During this period, he crafted two compositions; Madonna of the Stairs (c.1491) and the Battle of the Centaurs (c.1492) taking inspiration. After the Medici were overthrown in 1494, Michelangelo fled to bologna where he further cultivated his art, focusing particularly on marble as his medium.
His rise as a sculptor began with Pieta, which features the virgin Mary with the crucified Christ in 1496 and “It is certainly a miracle that a formless block of stone could ever have been reduced to a perfection that nature is scarcely able to create in the flesh.” as Vasari rightfully summarized. Michelangelo has a repository of unfinished work to his name. In 1501, now back in Florence he began working on different projects, most of which were left incomplete. On the proposition of the Guild of The Wool, he was commissioned to complete a project started 40 years prior by Agostino di Duccio, the grand statue of David as a symbol of Florentine freedom.
The sculpture was completed in 1504. A statement of the Renaissance ideal of perfect humanity, David cemented his position among the greatest. The statue depicts David as he contemplates his imminent confrontation with Goliath. Today it sits at the Galleria dell’ Accademia 1505 when he was summoned to Rome to work on one of the most revered of his works, the Sistine Chapel, which depicted scenes from the Old Testament. His architectural prowess can be seen in some prominent buildings; The Capitoline Square, The Laurentian Library designed around 1530, Palazzo Farnese in 1546. Aside from perfecting the visual arts, Michelangelo was also a remarkable poet and one of the most important of the Renaissance, He has left behind some three hundred works of Petrarchan poetry.
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Written By: Aakriti Bhandari
Editor and Team Lead: Ashutosh Sharma
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