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Michelangelo Buonarroti - Biography & Paintings Michelangelo Buonarroti The Creation of Adam

Michelangelo was an Italian painter, sculptor, and architect of the 15th and 16th centuries. Among many achievements in a life of nearly ninety years, Michelangelo sculpted the David and several versions of the Pietà, painted the ceiling and rear wall of the Sistine Chapel, and served as one of the architects of Saint Peter's Basilica, designing its famous dome. He is considered one of the greatest artists of all time.

Michelangelo Buonarroti Simoni was born on 6 March 1475 in Caprese near Arezzo, Tuscany. Commonly known as Michelangelo, he was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer. Michelangelo Buonarroti's versatility in the disciplines he took up was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with his rival and fellow Italian Leonardo da Vinci.

His father's name was Ludovico di Leonardo di Buonarotto Simoni while mother's Francesca Neri. On the day when Michelangelo was born, his father wrote, "Today March 6, 1475, a child of the male sex has been born to me and I have named him Michelangelo. He was born on Monday between 4 and 5 in the morning, at Caprese, where I am the Podestà." Michelangelo always considered himself a "son of Florence," as did his father, "a Citizen of Florence."

Michelangelo's father sent him to study grammar with the Humanist Francesco da Urbino in Florence as a young boy, however, the young Michelangelo showed no interest in his schooling, preferring to copy paintings from churches and seek the company of painters. At the age of thirteen, Michelangelo was apprenticed to the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio. Michelangelo was only fourteen, when his father asked Ghirlandaio to pay his apprentice as an artist. When in 1489 Lorenzo de' Medici, de facto ruler of Florence, asked Ghirlandaio for his two best pupils, Ghirlandaio sent Michelangelo and Francesco Granacci. During the period between 1490 to 1492, Michelangelo Buonarroti attended the Humanist academy which the Medici had founded along Neo Platonic lines. He also became acquainted with such humanists as Marsilo Ficino and the poet Angelo Poliziano, frequent visitors to the Medici court.
Michelangelo studied sculpture under Bertoldo di Giovanni.

Lorenzo de' Medici's death on 8 April 1492, brought a reversal of Michelangelo's circumstances. Michelangelo left the security of the Medici court and returned to his father's house. During the years Michelangelo spent in the Garden of San Marco, he began to study human anatomy. Niccolò Bichiellini, received a wooden Crucifix from Michelangelo (detail of Christ's face) in exchange for permission to study corpses (which was strictly forbidden by The Church). On 20 January 1494, after heavy snowfalls, Lorenzo's heir, Piero de Medici commissioned a snow statue, and Michelangelo again entered the court of the Medici.

At the age of 21, Michelangelo reached Rome (on 25th June 1496). On 4 July of the same year, he began work on a commission for Cardinal Raffaele Riario, an over-life-size statue of the Roman wine god, Bacchus. However, upon completion, the work was rejected by the cardinal, but later entered the collection of the banker Jacopo Galli, for his garden.

In November of 1497, the French ambassador in the Holy See commissioned one of Michelangelo's most famous works, the Pietà and the contract was agreed upon in August of the following year. About this work, Vasari said, "A revelation of all the potentialities and force of the art of sculpture. 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."

In Rome, Michelangelo lived near the church of Santa Maria di Loreto. Here, according to the legend, he fell in love with Vittoria Colonna, marquise of Pescara and a poet.

Throughout Michelangelo's sculpted work one finds both a sensitivity to mass and a command of unmanageable chunks of marble. His Pietà places the body of Jesus in the lap of the Virgin Mother; the artist's force and majestic style are balanced by the sadness and humility in Mary's gaze. Michelangelo showed mastery of the human figure in painting as well. His Doni Tondo (c.1504), a significant early work, shows both balance and energy; influence by Leonardo da Vinci is clear. At the rear of the chapel Michelangelo painted The Last Judgment (1534), considered by many to be his masterwork. The painting depicts Christ's damnation of sinners and blessing of the virtuous, along with the resurrection of the dead and the portage of souls to hell by Charon.

Michelangelo Buonarroti died, giving himself up to God, on February 18th, 1564, after a "slow fever." Unlike any previous artist, Michelangelo was the subject of two biographies in his own lifetime. The first of these was by Vasari, who concluded the first (1550) edition of his 'Vite' with the Life of one living artist, Michelangelo. In 1553 there appeared a 'Life of Michelangelo' by his pupil Ascanio Condivi (English translations 1903, 1976 and 1987).

Quotes by Michelangelo
"If people only knew how hard I work to gain my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all."

"Everything hurts."

"A man paints with his brains and not with his hands."

"Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish."

"Trifles make perfection, but perfection is no trifle."

"Genius is eternal patience."

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