Florence, Cradle of the Renaissance
The Live and Art of Michelangelo
Another famous Italian painter, sculptor, architect and poet from the Renaissance was Michelangelo Buonarroti, born on March 6th 1475 in Caprese Tuscany. Michelangelo is representative of the High Renaissance, who is considered as one of the greatest artists during all times. Michelangelo was born in the family of Ludovico, official governor of the towns of Caprese and Chiusi. His mother, Franceska, died when he was only seven years old. Only at his thirteen years, he managed to master the techniques of fresco painting and draftsmanship. The young artist studied the great masters of the past, Giotto, Donatello, Masaccio and the Greek and Roman sculptors, whose work he could find in the Medici collection in Florence.
Michelangelo was touched by the priest's teachings of morality and the promise of a rejuvenated Roman Church. The artist decided to maintain his ties to his patrons the Medici and followed them north to Bologna. His connections with the powerful Medici paid dividends in Bologna, the young artist was introduced to and taken in by one of the city's most prominent citizens, Gianfrancesco Aldovrandi. On Gianfrancesco's recommendation Michelangelo was given the task of carving three statuettes for one of Bologna's most famous artistic monuments, the Tomb of St Dominic. Michelangelo was extremely interested in the human forms and he has been studying anatomy, also dissected bodies and he used to drew from live models to master the techniques and complexities of posture and human movement.
Michelangelo was able to create several Pietas, which reflect different images. The Pieta of Vittoria Colonna was a chalk drawing that presented Mary with upraised arms and hands, which indicated her prophetic role. As for the Florentine Pieta, the artist depicted himself as the old image of Nicodemus as he lowered Jesus' body upon his death on the cross. Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were also included in this Pieta. It can be found that the leg and left arm of Jesus in this Pieta was smashed, which was said to have been done by Michelangelo.
Returning to Florence in 1500 he began work on perhaps the most recognizable statue in art, the carving of David (completed in 1504) depicting the moment he decides to battle Goliath. This work, created from marble quarried from the famous site at Carrara, established the sculptor as an outstanding master of his time, all happened before his 30th birthday.
With the triumph of the David still fresh, Michelangelo was commissioned by Piero Soderini, statesman of the Republic of Florence, to produce a fresco for the Florentine state hall in Palazzo Vecchio.
The next great commission given to Michelangelo was a chapel in the Vatican, built by Pope Sixtus IV, called the Sistine Chapel. The walls had been decorated by famous painters of the past and the Pope wanted the vault of the chamber painted to complete the decoration of the chapel. This work, lasting for four years, was completed with the artist having to lie on his back and paint looking upwards. While completing his artistic work Michelangelo suffered a lot in the chapel. He used to sat on wooden plank of the scaffolding up in the air with his legs dangling. By that time Michelngelo had suffered eye disease, which has worsens his eyesight. The work contains over 300 figures and centers on the Book of Genesis, it remains one of the finest examples of one man's physical, intellectual and artistic achievement.
Michelangelo will remain at the history as the only painter from the Renaissance that had his autobiography published while he was still alive. By the time of publication, he was the most famous artist in the world. Michelangelo passed away in Rome, aged 88.