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Michelangelo Buonarroti► Perhaps the greatest influence on western art in the last five centuries, Michelangelo was an Italian sculptor, architect, painter and poet in the period known as the High Renaissance. Along with contemporaries Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, he is considered one of the greatest masters in the history of European art.
Biography► Michelangelo was one of the most inspired creators in the history of art and, with Leonardo da Vinci, the most potent force in the Italian High Renaissance. As a sculptor, architect, painter, and poet, he exerted a tremendous influence on his contemporaries and on subsequent Western art in general.
► A Florentine—although born March 6, 1475, in the small village of Caprese near Arezzo— Michelangelo continued to have a deep attachment to his city, its art, and its culture throughout his long life. He spent the greater part of his adulthood in Rome, employed by the popes; characteristically, however, he left instructions that he be buried in Florence, and his body was placed there in a fine monument in the church of Santa Croce.
David► His great works were almost entirely in the service of the Catholic Church, and include a huge statue of the Biblical hero David (over 14 feet tall) in Florence, sculpted between 1501 and 1504
► David Gigantic marble, started in 1501 and completed in 1504 Michelangelo began work on the colossal figure of David in 1501, and by 1504 the sculpture (standing at 4.34m/14 ft 3 in tall) was in place outside the Palazzo Vecchio. The choice of David was supposed to reflect the power and determination of Republican Florence and was under constant attack from supporters of the usurped Medicis. In the 19th century the statue was moved to the Accademia.
► The high point of Michelangelos early style is the gigantic (4.34 m/14.24 ft) marble David (Accademia, Florence), which he produced between 1501 and 1504, after returning to Florence. The Old Testament hero is depicted by Michelangelo as a lithe nude youth, muscular and alert, looking off into the distance as if sizing up the enemy Goliath, whom he has not yet encountered. The fiery intensity of Davids facial expression is termed terribilità, a feature characteristic of many of Michelangelos figures and of his own personality. David, Michelangelos most famous sculpture, became the symbol of Florence and originally was placed in the Piazza della Signoria in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, the Florentine town hall.
Michelangelo did actually slam down his hammer on the Duomo Pietà, hislast great statue, in just such an access of rage. And he didn’t stopbeating away at—crushing—the beautiful statue on which he had beenworking off and on for months, maybe years, until he had ruined it forgood.
Moses► Michelangelo made some of his finest sculpture for the Julius Tomb, including the Moses (circa 1515), the central figure in the much reduced monument now located in Romes church of San Pietro in Vincoli. The muscular patriarch sits alertly in a shallow niche, holding the tablets of the Ten Commandments, his long beard entwined in his powerful hands. He looks off into the distance as if communicating with God.
Pieta ► The marble Pietà (1498-1500), still in its original place in Saint Peters Basilica. One of the most famous works of art, the Pietà was probably finished before Michelangelo was 25 years old, and it is the only work he ever signed. The youthful Mary is shown seated majestically, holding the dead Christ across her lap, a theme borrowed from northern European art. Instead of revealing extreme grief, Mary is restrained, and her expression is one of resignation.
The Dying Slave ► The Bound Slave and the Dying Slave (both c. 1510-13), Musée du Louvre, Paris, demonstrate Michelangelos approach to carving. He conceived of the figure as being imprisoned in the block. By removing the excess stone, the form was released. Here, as is frequently the case with his sculpture, Michelangelo left the statues unfinished (non-finito), either because he was satisfied with them as is, or because he no longer planned to use them.
Bacchus ► The over-life-size Bacchus (1496-98, Bargello, Florence). One of the few works of pagan rather than Christian subject matter made by the master, it rivaled ancient statuary, the highest mark of admiration in Renaissance Rome.
Sistine Chapel ► The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome (commissioned by Pope Julius II), was painted between 1508 and 1512.
► Michelangelo was recalled to Rome by Pope Julius II in 1505 for two commissions. The most important one was for the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Working high above the chapel floor, lying on his back on scaffolding, Michelangelo painted, between 1508 and 1512, some of the finest pictorial images of all time. On the vault of the papal chapel, he devised an intricate system of decoration that included nine scenes from the Book of Genesis, beginning with God Separating Light from Darkness and including the Creation of Adam, the Creation of Eve, the Temptation and Fall of Adam and Eve, and the Flood. These centrally located narratives are surrounded by alternating images of prophets and sibyls on marble thrones, by other Old Testament subjects, and by the ancestors of Christ.
► In order to prepare for this enormous work, Michelangelo drew numerous figure studies and cartoons, devising scores of figure types and poses. These awesome, mighty images, demonstrating Michelangelos masterly understanding of human anatomy and movement, changed the course of painting in the West.
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.
Doni Tondo► The Holy Family with the infant St. John the Baptist (the Doni Tondo) c. 1503-05
► Sybille de Cummes ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City Sibyls were female seers of ancient Greece and Rome. They were also known as oracles. Like the Jewish prophets of the Old Testament, many sibyls had their sayings recorded in books. Jewish prophets spoke unbidden, whereas sibyls tended to speak only if consulted on specific questions. They sometimes answered in riddles or rhetorical questions.
► Dome of St. Peters Basilica Michelangelos crowning achievement as an architect was his work at St. Peters Basilica, where he was made chief architect in 1546. The building was being constructed according to Donato Bramantes plan, but Michelangelo ultimately became responsible for the altar end of the building on the exterior and for the final form of its dome.
Michelangelos Achievements► During his long lifetime, Michelangelo was an intimate of princes and popes, from Lorenzo de Medici to Leo X, Clement VIII, and Pius III, as well as cardinals, painters, and poets. Neither easy to get along with nor easy to understand, he expressed his view of himself and the world even more directly in his poetry than in the other arts. Much of his verse deals with art and the hardships he underwent, or with Neoplatonic philosophy and personal relationships.
► The great Renaissance poet Ludovico Ariosto wrote succinctly of this famous artist: “Michael more than mortal, divine angel.” Indeed, Michelangelo was widely awarded the epithet“divine” because of his extraordinary accomplishments. Two generations of Italian painters and sculptors were impressed by his treatment of the human figure: Raphael, Annabale Carracci, Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino, Sebastiano del Piombo, and Titian. His dome for St. Peters became the symbol of authority, as well as the model, for domes all over the Western world; the majority of state capitol buildings in the U.S., as well as the Capitol in Washington, D.C., are derived from it.
End Slide Show► Presented by: bruceblackart.com