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Douglas I. Pereira


Mr. Fink

World History

Michelangelo Bio

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, commonly known as Michelangelo, (March 6, 1475 - February 18, 1564) was a Renaissance sculptor, architect, painter, and poet. The Creation of Adam, his most famous painting. Michelangelo is famous for creating the fresco ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, as well as the Last Judgment over the altar, and The Martyrdom of St. Peter and The Conversion of St. Paul in the Vatican's Cappella Paolina; among his many sculptures are those of David and the PietÐo, as well as the Doni Virgin, Bacchus, Moses, Rachel, Leah, and members of the Medici family; he also designed the dome of St. Peter's Basilica.

Michelangelo was born near Arezzo, in Caprese, Tuscany, Italy in 1475. His father, Lodovico di Leonardo di Buonarotti di Simoni, was the resident magistrate in Caprese and podestÐo of Chiusi. His mother was Francesca di Neri del Miniato di Siena. As genealogies of the day indicated that the Buonarroti descended from Countess Matilda of Tuscany, the family was considered minor nobility. However, Michelangelo was raised in Florence and later lived with a sculptor and his wife in the town of Settignano where his father owned a marble quarry and a small farm. Michelangelo once said to the biographer of artists Giorgio Vasari, "What good I have comes from the pure air of your native Arezzo, and also because I sucked in chisels and hammers with my mother's milk." He also studied with Lorenzo De' Medici.

Against his father's wishes (in fact to persuade him to take up a more honorable profession he would beat him), after a period of grammatics studies with the humanist Francesco d'Urbino Michelangelo chose to continue his apprenticeship in painting with Domenico Ghirlandaio and in sculpture with Bertoldo di Giovanni: on June 28, 1488 he signed with an already famous painter a contract for three years starting in 1488. Amazingly enough, Michelangleo's father was able to get Ghirlandaio to pay the young artist, which was unheard of at the time. In fact, most apprentices paid their masters for the education. Impressed, Domenico recommended him to the ruler of the city, Lorenzo de' Medici, and Michelangelo left his workshop in 1489. From 1490 to 1492, Michelangelo attended Lorenzo's school and was influenced by many prominent people who modified and expanded his ideas on art, following the dominant Platonic view of that age, and even his feelings about sexuality. It was during this period that Michelangelo met literary personalities like Pico della Mirandola, Angelo Poliziano and Marsilio Ficino.

After the death of Lorenzo on April 8, 1492, for whom Michelangelo had become a kind of son, Michelangelo quit the Medici court. In the following months he produced a Wooden crucifix (1493), as a thanksgiving gift to the prior of the church of Santa Maria del Santo Spirito who had permitted him some studies of anatomy on the corpses of the church's Hospital. Between 1493 and 1494 he bought the marble for a larger than life statue of Hercules, which was sent to France and disappeared sometime in the 1700s. He could enter again the court after on January 20, 1494, Piero de Medici commissioned him a snow statue. But that year the Medici were expelled from Florence after the Savonarola uprise, and Michelangelo also left the city before the end of the political upheaval, moving to Venice and then to Bologna. He did stay in Florence for awhile hiding in a small room underneath San Lorenzo that can still be visited to this day, if you know how to ask the guides. In this room there are charcoal sketches still on the walls of various images that Michelangelo drew from his memory.

Here he was commissioned the carving of the last small figures of the tomb and shrine of St. Dominic, in the church with the same name. He returned to Florence at the end of 1494, but soon he fled again, scared by the turmoils and by the menace of the French invasion. He was again in his city between the end of 1495 and the June of 1496: if Leonardo considered Savonarola a fanatic and left the city, Michelangelo was touched by the friar's preaching, by the associated moral severity and by the hope of renovation of the Roman Church. In that year a marble Cupid by Michelangelo was treacherously sold to Cardinal Raffaele Riario as an ancient piece: the prelate discovered the cheat, but was so impressed by the quality of the sculpture that he invited the artist to Rome, where he arrived on June 26, 1496. On July 4 Michelangelo started to carve an over-life-size statue of the Greek fertility god Bacchus, commissioned by the banker Jacopo Galli for his garden.

Subsequently, in November of 1497, French ambassador in the Holy See commissioned one of his most famous works, the PietÐo. The contract was stipulated in the August of the following year. Though he devoted himself only to sculpture, during his first stay in Rome Michelangelo never stopped his daily practice of drawing. In Rome Michelangelo lived near the church of Santa Maria di Loreto: here, according to the legends, he fell in love (probably a Platonic love) with Vittoria Colonna, marquise of Pescara and poet. His house was demolished in 1874, and the remaining architectural elements saved by new proprietors were destroyed in 1930. Today a modern reconstruction of Michelangelo's house can be seen on the Gianicolo hill.

Michelangelo returned to Florence in 1499-1501. Things were changing in the city after the fall of Savonarola and the rise of the gonfaloniere Pier Soderini. He was proposed by the consuls of the Guild of Wool of the city to complete a project started 40 years before by Agostino di Duccio and never materialized: a colossal statue portraying David as a symbol of the Florentine freedom, to be placed in the Piazza della Signoria, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. Michelangelo replied finishing in 1504 arguably his most famous work, the marble David. This masterwork definitively established his fame as sculptor for his extraordinary technical skill and the strength of his symbolical imagination. While a pupil he worked on a Virgin and Child with the young Saint John the Baptist and Angels, 1497, now in the National Gallery, London. He also painted the Holy Family of the Tribune, also known as Tondo Doni: it was commissioned for the marriage of Angelo Doni and Maddalena Strozzi, and still followed 15th century's lines.

Michelangelo was summoned back to the great city of Rome (in 1503) by the newly appointed Pope Julius II and was commissioned to build the Pope's



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