Michelangelo Biography and Detailed Information About One of His Art Works
Michelangelo was one of the most influential artists of the Rennaissance and of art history. Painter, sculptor, poet and architect, Michelangelo dominated the art scene for almost the whole of the 16th century. Born in 1474, he lived to be almost ninety years of age, time in which he left an unparalleled creation to the world.
In Michelangelo's time, the Renaissance period had reached its peak in Italy. Indeed, this was the time of art geniuses, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael in Rome and Titian in Venice. Of all, Leonardo especially embodied the whole spirit of the Renaissance: he was perfectly skilled in more than one activity and excelled as a painter, as an inventor, as an architect or as a physicist. Perhaps of all, Michelangelo is closer to him through his multitude of aptitudes.
The High Renaissance and these painters especially have brought about a new trend in painting. The naive -like human bodies and figures began to be portrayed in tehir full body strength, as a boast for the human physical and implied spiritual beauty. In order to achieve a keenr reproduction of the human body, the painter began to study in detail the human anatomy, Leonardo being the first in this sense. A careful study of the muscles that for our body led to a more real represantation and portrayal.
Another characteristic of the High Renaissance period was the depiction of large scenes, huge paintings with mythological or biblical scenes. Let's take into consideration the work of Raphael in the Chambers of the Vatican Palace and especially the scene of the Fire of Borgia. Our attention is drawn here by the large mass of people in the painting: many characters, all with a life of their own, all expressing the human ideal.
This fructuous period for painting and art in general was mainly caused by the many commissioned that these painters received from the popes of the times and the princes of the Italian states. The Papal institution was rich and popes of the times were keen art lovers that encouraged art and the artists. It was also the case of the princely famiulies: let us only consider the Medicis in Florence, the Doges in Venice or the Visconti family in Milan: all interested in art, usually meant as a form to express their power. All these factors led to an uprisal of art in the 16th century in Italy, period that proved to be one of the richest in art history.
Artist's Biography. Patronage and Commissions.
Michelangelo was born on the 6th of March 1475 (1474 according to Giorgio Vasari) in the little village of Cassentino, outside Florence. He was the son of Lodovico Buonarroti, who was a podesta at that time for Chiusi and Caprese. He spent his childhood however in Florence, where his father returned and where Michelangelo went to grammar school under Francesco da Urbino guidance. As Giorgio Vasari mentions, early aptitudes manifested at Michelangelo who had little thought for school, but spent most of his time drawing and getting scolded by his father for it.
It was in this period that Michelangelo became friends with one Francesco Granacci, who was a young apprentice for Domenico del Ghirlandaio. Seeing Michelangelo's interest for painting and drawing, he would often take him to Ghirlandaio's studio where Michelangelo came in contact with the works of one who was considered at that time one of the leading painters of the Italian Renaissance. Michelangelo's father Lodovico decided to bring his son to Ghirlandaio's studio and leave him as an apprentice besides the master. Michelangelo was fourteen years old and Ghirlandaio would be his first art and painting teacher.
Giorgio Vasari lets us know that Michelangelo's great qualities immediately became transparent. However easy we might find this to believe, we should beware that Vasari was later a close friend of Michelangelo and his views may be somewhat subjective. Even so, Giorgio Vasari's "Life of painters, sculptors and architects" gives a good account of those times, albeit not always accurate. He recalls that one a day that Ghirlandaio was painting one of the chapels in Santa Maria Novella, in Florence, Michelangelo began drawing accurate sketches of the chairs and the scaffolding. On his return and on seeing the drawing, Ghirlandaio would have said: "This one knows more than me." On the other hand, Ghirlandaio was keen enough to see in Michelangelo's drawings the hand of a sculpture: his drawings reflected his inclinations towards sculpture and Ghirlandaio knew at once that fresco paintings were not (yet) for him. It is of common knowledge, for example, that Ghirlandaio was a top-class painter of frescoes, however Michelangelo's first attempts at painting the Sistine Chapel proved a disaster, mainly because of the improper use of moisture colors. He was not interested in learning fresco painting and began to frequent Bertoldo a sculptor in Florence who was believed to have been Donatello's pupil. Bertoldo was Michelangelo's first sculpture teacher. In the meantime, Michelangelo visited the churches of Florence, where he discovered two painters that would have enormous influence on his later works. The first was Giotto, the second Masaccio. The latter would abide more to Michelangelo, probably because his return to the idea of the nude and of the human body reflected more of Michelangelo's own belief that painting was only a support for sculpture.
It was in Bertoldo's gardens that Michelangelo's work was first noticed by Lorenzo de Medicis, also known as Lorenzo the Magnificent, for his interest in glamour and fine arts. Lorenzo was to become Michelangelo's first patron: Michelangelo was invited to live in the Medicis Palace alongside Lorenzo and his family, where he became close friends with Lorenzo's son Piero. He spent four years in the Medici palaces, until Lorenzo's death in 1492. His first sculptures also date from this period: a marble piece of Hercules and the Centaurs and after Lorenzo's death, another marble Hercules that ended up at the court of Francis of France.
After spending a year in Venice and Bologna, Michelangelo's fame became to spread across the Papal States and he worked in Rome from 1496 to 1501. From these period dates the magnificent Pieta, now in the St. Peter's Church in Rome. Returned to Florence in 1501, Michelangelo creates another of his masterpieces, David, and he paints in the Uffizi Galleries the scene of the battle of Pisa. His unique style of painting and his vision of a sculptor can be seen in these works. In 1504, he is called upon to Rome by Pope Julius II, who wanted to built a funeral monument for himself. Of this never achieved complex of sculptures, only a few pieces were created: the statue of Moses, now in the church of St. Peter's in Chains in Rome and the statues of six slaves, in the Louvre and the Florence Academy. In 1508, he is commissioned the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, imposing piece of work for which Raphael also competed. The paintings of the ceiling remain among the greatest achievements of paintings. A deep connaisseur of the human anatomy, Michelangelo succeeded in giving life to the bodies portrayed and the painting can truly be considered a triumph of physical beauty.
Between 1520 and 1534, Michelangelo works again in Florence, where he realizes a grandiose funeral ensemble for the Medici family, including 4 allegorical sculptures (Dawn, Dusk, Day and Night). The last great painting that Michelangelo realized was for one of the walls in the Sistine Chapel and was commissioned by Pope Paul III. The Final Judgement portrays an allegorical view of the world, inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy, and Michelangelo's trademarks in painting can be seen here as well. His final sculptures were the Pieta Rondanini (today in Milan) and the Pieta Palestrina, supposed to have been created for his own tomb, but that was never finished, for he died in Rome in 1564. Painter and sculptor, but also a successful poet and architect, Michelangelo truly summarizes the spirit of the Renaissance, embodying all qualities of a cultural genius.
The "Creation of Adam
The Sistine Chapel was built in the 15th century under the patronage of Pope Sixtus IV who also commissioned important painters of the time, such as Perugino, Botticelli and Ghirlandaio to paint parallel stories of the Ancient and New Testament on the side walls. The ceiling had however remained empty. It was Julius II who commissioned it to Michelangelo in 1508, who thus covered in magnificent paintings over 800 square meters of empty ceiling.
The story painted by Michelangelo depicts the Creation of the Universe, of Earth and of Adam and Eve, all painted in an architectural-like environment, with simulated pointed arches and ogives in which the artist painted sibyls and prophets. The complex is made up of nine paintings of the creation, the most important being the Fall of Man, Noe's sacrifice and, of course, the Creation of Adam.
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