Michelangelo was arguably the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance, and inarguably one of the greatest artists of all time. He considered himself a sculptor, primarily, but is equally well known for the paintings he was induced (grudgingly) to create. He was also an architect and an amateur poet.
Movement, Style, School or Period:
High to Late Italian Renaissance
Year and Place of Birth:
1475, Caprese (near Florence) in Tuscany
Young Michelangelo, motherless by the age of six, fought long and hard with his father for permission to apprentice as an artist. At the age of 12, he began studying under Domenico Ghirlandajo, who was the most fashionable painter in Florence at the time. Fashionable, but extremely jealous of Michelangelo's emerging talent. Ghirlandajo passed the lad off to be apprenticed to Bertoldo di Giovanni, the sculptor, and here Michelangelo found the work that became his true passion. His sculpture came to the attention of the most powerful family in Florence, the Medici, and he gained their patronage.
Body of Work:
Michelangelo's output was, quite simply, stunning, in quality, quantity and scale. His most famous statues include the 18-foot David (1501-1504) and the Pietà (1499), but his sculpture encompassed many other pieces including elaborately decorated tombs. He did not consider himself a painter, and (justifiably) complained throughout four straight years of the work, but created one of the greatest masterpieces of all time on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (1508-1512). Additionally, he painted The Last Judgement (1534-1541) on the altar wall of the same chapel many years later. As an old man, he was tapped by the Pope to complete the half-finished St. Peter's Church in the Vatican. Not all of the plans he drew were utilized but, after his death, architects built the dome still in use today. His poetry was very personal and not as grand as his other works, yet is of great value to those who wish to know Michelangelo.
Accounts of his life seem to portray Michelangelo as a prickly-tempered, mistrusting and lonely man, lacking in both interpersonal skills and confidence in his physical appearance. Perhaps that is why he created works of such heartbreaking beauty and heroism that they are still held in awe these many centuries later.
Year and Place of Death:
"Genius is eternal patience."