Or: The art guy, or the cartoon turtle?

Despite the undeniable impact upon history attributable to the latter, the former has, for those whose parents and teachers took initiative beyond switching on the television, left some of the world's most renowned works of sculpture, painting, and architecture for our continued awe and admiration, of which David and the Sistine Chapel are only two of the most easily recognized.

All this while navigating the often perilous waters of Popes, Medicis, and the general hullabaloo of the Italian Renaissance.

Meanwhile, I continue to write brief, wise-cracking essays about great men during gaps in the monotony of my atrophy-inspiring day-job.

Now then. What follows is not comprehensive artistic analysis--I'm a "likes-what-I-likes" museum goer--but more Renaissance scuttlebutt and muckraking. Settle down, and get comfortable.

You know. Like Cher.

Art history recognizes more than one right-brainer with the appellation "Michelangelo," though very few will not know which you mean when referring to this one by first name alone.

But for the record, his birth certificate, if he had one, would read Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. Michelangelo Buonarroti to his acquaintances, Michelangelo to his friends, and McB to Julius II.

From finger-painting to paint-by-numbers

The Ludovico Buonarroti comes from, appropriately, Ludovico Buonarroti, Michelangelo's father. Minor official in the city of Florence, Ludovico owned land both there and in the provinces, where his gubernatorial aspirations held somewhat more significant sway. He was the governor, or podesta, of Chiusi and Caprese, two small villages near the Appenine Mountains in Tuscany.

It was in the second of those two villages where on March 6, 1475, Michelangelo was born, not quite yet to his father's disappointment.

Following the conclusion of his terms and the death of his wife, Ludovico moved Michelangelo and his four brothers back to their farmlands overlooking Florence. Surrounded by quarry-filled hills, Michelangelo grew up with little more to do than attend latin school and carve his name into rocks, indulging his nascent interest in sculpture. But growing up with a politically-minded father with even distant blood ties to one of the world's most powerful banking families is bound to be difficult to one with such inclinations--especially when the chosen course was considered a manual craft quite low on the ladder of social esteem.

Maybe if his father had spent a little more time with Michelangelo, he wouldn't have ended up an...artist.

I Was a Teenage Art Student

In 1488, at the age of thirteen, Michelangelo had his first great success in proving it's not necessarily what you know, but who you know. His father gave up the struggle of wills and secured for Michelangelo an apprenticeship to one of the most highly fashionable painters you've never heard of: Domenico Ghirlandaio.

Under Domenico's instruction, Michelangelo picked up some drawing and painting skills in both tempera and fresco. The two didn't exactly get chummy, and despite Michelangelo's later protestations to the contrary, his painting technique indicates that he did in fact learn a thing or two from his master.

Ghirlandaio of course ended up playing Salieri to Michelangelo's Mozart. The apprenticeship lasted less than two years, when Michelangelo departed for the greener pastures of the Medici gardens.

Top Tip: If your name has "The Magnificent" after it, you're in good shape

You'll certainly have the chance to extend generous patronage to untold numbers of artists. Lorenzo de Medici (a.k.a. Lorenzo the Magnificent), was the patron to end all patrons--his coffers coughed up lira aplenty for those types who now lose funding to high school football teams and defense spending.

  • 1490: Lorenzo takes Michelangelo in, encourages him in his work and exposes him to a thoroughly humanist education. The young artist takes his espresso over Dante and Petrarch--never having quite mastered latin--and discusses his thoughts with gentlemen such as Giovanni and Giulio de Medici, later Popes Leo X and Clement VII.
  • 1490-1492: As one might expect, these are some of Michelangelo's happiest years. By the age of seventeen, he finishes two remarkable relief sculptures: Battle of the Centaurs and the Madonna of the Stairs.
  • 1492: Lorenzo the Magnificent becomes Lorenzo the Deceased, leaving Michelangelo without a meal ticket to punch. The much less appreciated Piero de Medici--the "Rat Bastard," (ratto bastardo) in many an unspoken thought, no doubt--takes the familial reigns...
  • 1494: ...and manages to get the whole clan booted out of Florence and into political exile. Michlangelo goes with them to Bologna.

Top Tip Number Two: hitch yourself to stars on their way up, not on their way out.

In Bologna Michelangeo took up with nobleman Gianfrancesco Aldovrandi, who had him carve some statues for a church--but Michelangelo returned to Florence as soon as he could.

Nobody likes change

Florence was not as he left it. In the absence of the fun-loving, rich, indulgent, ruthless Medicis, the city came under the almost theocratic sway of Girolamo Savonarola, a preacher heaven-bent on asking anyone he could get to stand still long enough why they spent all their time reading and studying the arts when they could be wearing drab clothes and praying.

  • 1495: Michelangelo attaches himself to leftover branch of the Medici family tree, the house of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de Medici. Patronage is thin these days, so Lorenzo sets him to work on a forgery--a statue of Sleeping Cupid aged to look like an antique. That, and a few letters of introduction, open the doors to another city of hopefully greater advantage.

So, arts and crafts lesson the third--cheat.

Rome is where the art is


Michelangelo's first trip to Rome, at the age of 22, puts him in enviable stead.

  • 1496: Michelangelo reaches into the deep pockets of the Catholic Church and pulls out a commission from Cardinal Raffaele Riario, second only to the Pope in pomp. The Cardinal is just starting construction on the Cancelleria, which is going to want more than its fair share of statues. Given a block of marble to demonstrate his prowess, Michelangelo chips it away into the Bacchus.

    The Cardinal rejects it straight into the hands of a Roman banker, who likes it enough to recommend Michelangelo to a French Cardinal who commissions from him a pieta to be displayed in the basilica of St. Peter's. Take that, first Cardinal's beliefs!

  • 1501: Another Cardinal, another commission. This time, it's Cardinal Francesco Piccolomini (a name well worth making fun of--perhaps why he later had it changed to Pius III) that places an order--fifteen statuettes to adorn an altar in his name, left incomplete by the first artist. Michelangelo does four, then blows off the gig--and the city of Rome--to take up another, much more rewarding unfinished task.

Is it cold in here, or is it just you?

By late 1501, a gigantic slab of marble had stood gathering dust in the workshop of a Florentine cathedral for nearly forty years. The Renaissance sculptor Agostino de Duccio left it there, only partially worked, where locals referred to it as "the Giant," and deemed it little more than a future ruin.

Enter our hero, to whom the head of the Florentine government entrusted the glorified brick, and who over the next four years carved it into the quintessential example of towering, ripple-muscled, Hellenistic contrapposto man-sculpture that it now is. Comments on David's slightly dysplasic proportions may be countered by the possiblity of the artist intending him to be viewed from below, though that of course does not quite explain all of the statue's shortcomings.

In any event, David was the intended symbol of Florence's power as a republic, and the statue secured permanent acclaim for Michelangelo, who would never lack for paying work again. He remained in Florence for another four years, in which time he wore down many a chisel and had a high time of the High Renaissance. Eighteen commissions in all (several of which have been lost--see the above writeups) from bronze daggers to grandiose tombs, coming from Popes, Kings, and at least one Sultan of Turkey who wanted a bridge across the Bosphorus. Not that he finished them all, of course...

What have the Romans ever done for us?

In the one hand, you have a shot at an artistic face-off with another of the world's greats, Leonardo Da Vinci. You get to battle him, scalpel to scalpel, on opposing frescoes in the Sala del Gran Consiglio in the Palazzo della Signoria, the Florentine Hall of State. In the other, you have a scroll from the Pope du jour telling you to get on the next wagon to Rome where once again massive renovations are underway.

What do you do? You go to Rome.

  • 1505: Pope Julius II, newly elected pontiff with a penchant for self-aggrandizement, realizes you can't take it with you, but you can damn well pile it up on your point of departure. He commissions Michelangelo to construct a papal tomb the likes of which hubris hadn't been seen since Lucifer took a shot at the Big Chair.
  • 1505-1506: Michelangelo spends eight months going from quarry to quarry looking for just the right marble to render the pope's eventual death immortal.
  • 1506: He finds it, but gets back to Rome only to discover serious deficiencies in the papal attention span. Julius II has refocused his energies on St. Peter's crumbling basilica--causing Michelangelo to take his business back to Florence.
  • 1507: If only for a year. A holy campaign in Bologna puts Michelangelo back in the Pope's way, and following the completion of a bronze statue of him, the sculptor extraordinaire again returns to Rome on the highest of orders--as a painter.

Things are lookin' up.

Michelangelo did not rate himself a painter. The chosen representative of God on earth, did. If you want to know how Michelangelo felt about having to paint the Sistine Chapel, take a look at the following vitriolic sonnet:

I've already grown a goiter from this toil
as water swells the cats in Lombardy
or any other country they might be,
forcing my belly to hang under my chin.
My beard to heaven, and my memory
I feel above its coffer. My chest a harp.
And ever above my face, the brush dripping,
making a rich pavement out of me.
My loins have been shoved into my guts,
my arse serves to counterweigh my rump,
Eyelessly I walk in the void.
Ahead of me my skin lies outstretched,
and to bend, I must knot my shoulders taut,
holding myself like a Syrian bow.

Clearly the man had no love of the labor, which took him from 1508 to 1512. We appreciate it now far more than he ever did, and in doing so likely do him a dishonor. How often do we reverance anyone else for making a living by lying on their back?

What's a pope or two, among friends?

Everything. Julius II didn't live much past the completion of the chapel, which paved the way for a couple of Michelangelo's old cronies to get new names and add to them new numbers. Good times, for an old Medici friend...

  • 1513: Remeber Giovanni de Medici from the gardens? This year marks his turn wearing the pointy hat as Leo X, and he puts Michelangelo to the task of building a monumental facade for the Medici church of San Lorenzo.
  • 1520: The money runs out. The pope cancels the contract, but inspires Michelangelo to two other great feats of architecture. He'd get started on them under his other boyhood friend, Clement VII, but would first have to take a break to defend the city of his childhood.

Anyone who remembers Castles II knows it takes some major stones to attack the Pope. Nevertheless, in 1527 the troops of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V sacked Rome, ousted the Medici family from Florence, which declared itself once again a republic, and saw Michelangelo hunkering down in Orvieta for another two years. When Pope and HRE buried the hatchet in 1529, Florence decided it likes things the way there were, thanks very much, and Michelangelo found himself between a Pope and a hard place. Biting the hand that fed him, Michelangelo sided with Republican Florence against the combined powers of Pope and Emperor.

  • 1529: Artist, sculptor, and poet Michelangelo is created Governor and Procurator General of the Florentine fortifications. As a military engineer, he oversees the city's enormous defense effort. Hey, I have a BFA. Maybe I should apply for a job at the Pentagon!
  • 1530: Michelangelo's Herculean effort is no match for a ten month siege. Florence falls, and only the magnanimity of an old pal saves Michelangelo from the witch hunts that serve to pave the way for the reinstatement of the Medicis. Clement VII gets him off the hook.
  • 1534: Two years of Republican erasure under the tyrannical Duke Allesandro de Medici are enough for Michelangelo to close up shop in Florence permanently. He packs his bags for the last time, and heads back to Rome.

Shouldn't he be dead by now?

Pretty much. By the age of sixty, Michelangelo was already respectably past life-expectancy, and still nowhere near the end. The ninth pope he saw ascend was Paul III, a reformer who clawed his way to religious supremacy in 1534 and gave Michelangelo fifteen years of uninterrupted patronage. And Michelangelo outlived him, as well.

The Last Judgement, the Sistine Chapel's altar wall, two large frescoes in the Pauline Chapel, and a reduced version of Julius II's tomb were all the results of this period, a time when he would be more expected to break a hip than a fresh chunk of marble. But sculpture fell a bit to the wayside as his interest in architecture and poetry increased. He only produced three--Rachel and Leah for Julius II's tomb, and the bust of Brutus--in the last thirty years of his life.

Under Pius IV, urban planning was the order of the day, especially for the now octogenarian artist suffering from kidney stones in a time when a course of leeches was at the forefront of medicine. He rebuffed invitations to return to Florence sent by Cosimo de Medici, and grumbled a great deal about the kids these days with their damned newfangled theses. He also kept up correspondence with his extended family, having no wife or children of his own.

Well, it's about time.

Michelangelo was still working days before his death, chipping away at the Rondanini Pieta in his shop in Rome. Attended by his doctor, one or two old friends and a loyal student, Michelangelo did as all men must on February 18th, 1564.

Throughout, he maintained the temperment of a true artist, by which I mean he was on occasion an unutterable bastard. Exacting and demanding, passionate and stubborn, Michelangelo kept his stable of assistants and artisans slaving away on meticulous details, wondering why they didn't go to business school like their fathers wanted them to. As an answer they had the man himself. If we have learned anything from the life of Michelangelo, it must surely be that. Also that they don't make popes like they used to.

Statuettes to:

NOTE: I wrote this paper - Michelangelo, Equal of the Ancients - in university for the History of Interior Design.

“It has been said (but I think this is just a story) that Michelangelo Buonarroti nailed some poor man to a board and pierced his heart with a spear, so as to paint a Crucifixion.” - Francesco Susinno repeating an early urban legend, quoted in the Faber Book of Art Anecdotes

“Today this sixth of March … there was born to me a male child; I named him Michelangelo and … he was born on Monday between four and five in the morning, at Caprese, where I am the Podesta.”

So the birth of this famous “son of Florence” was recorded – Michelangolo di Lodovico Buonarrotti Simoni. He is one of the greatest artists of all time, a man whose name has become synonymous with the word “masterpiece”. Michelangelo Buonarroti was unmatched as an artist, the creator of works of sublime beauty.

Michelangelo’s father, Ludovico, was a minor Florentine official with distant connections to the ruling Medici family. Taken when Ludovico was thirty, Podesta of Caprese was his first paying job. He was too proud to work, but too poor to live well. The family had been wealthy in Michelangelo’s grandfather’s day, and Ludovico was obsessed with preserving the remaining Buonarroti fortunes. He planned for his son to become a successful merchant or businessman, and had him sent to a wet nurse from a stonecutting family . Instead, 13 year old Michelangelo insisted he wanted to become an artist, enraging his father who said, “artists are laborers, no better than shoemakers”. Ludovico and his brother Francesco beat the boy viciously, but he would not be swayed. Finally, his father relented and on April 1, 1488 signed a grudging agreement to have Michelangelo apprenticed at the workshop of painter Domenico Ghirlandaio. He was apprenticed for a term of three years. Later, Michelangelo would state forcefully that he was an artist, not a craftsman, and took pains to hide his apprenticeship. He claimed that he had never had a teacher, and that the painter’s instruction had taught him nothing. In fact, he said, Ghirlandaio was jealous of his obvious talent. The boy did, apparently, correct some of Ghirlandaio’s work, so perhaps there is validity in this claim. Michelangelo also insisted, despite incredible talent at painting, that he was a sculptor, not a painter, and bemoaned the fact that he had not been apprenticed to a sculptor.

After spending only one year in the workshop learning the art of fresco, he went on to study at the sculpture school in the Medici gardens, apparently with the full cooperation of Ghirlandaio. Here Michelangelo attracted the attention of Lorenzo de Medici “the Magnificent”. He had found the head of a grinning, bearded old satyr in a garden shed. It was very damaged around the mouth. He copied it in marble in only a few days, using marble begged from Lorenzo’s masons. Lorenzo happened to be in the garden and, after praising the beauty of the work, told the boy that old men never had all of their teeth. Immediately, Michelangelo removed a tooth and drilled a hole for the root cavity. This, his first recorded sculpture, brought his eagerness and genius to the attention of Lorenzo. Michelangelo became a member of Lorenzo’s household, with his own room, allowance, maintenance, and a royal purple cloak.

Here he began to study human anatomy under the direction of Bertoldo di Giovanni. Michelangelo lived with the Medicis for the next three years.

By the time Michelangelo was sixteen, he had already finished two relief sculptures: The Battle of the Centaurs, and The Madonna of the Stairs.

In his personal diary, he describes these two works: “My first work was a small bas-relief, The Madonna of the Stairs. Mary, Mother of God, sits on the rock of the Church. The child curls back into her body. She foresees his death, and his return on the stairway to heaven.

“My second work, another small relief. My tutor read me the myth of the battle of the Lapiths against the Centaurs. The wild forces of Life, locked in heroic combat. Already at 16, my mind was a battlefield: my love of pagan beauty, the male nude, at war with my religious faith. A polarity of themes and forms… one spiritual, the other earthly, I’ve kept these carvings on the walls of my studio to this very day.”

Interestingly, although he did the Battle of the Centaurs, he never made a sphinx, Pan, or any other unnatural blend of human and animal, with the exception of a centaur in the Battle, and the little satyr behind his Bacchus. Both were done in his youth. Later he realized that he could say all he wished with the unadorned and unchanged human body.

Typical of his work, the Battle was left unfinished. It was also modeled upon an older sculpture – Bertoldo di Giovanni’s Battle relief – and the subject was an old one. With centaurs and the single woman disguised, it appears to be a mass of naked male bodies in violent action.

The Madonna of the Stairs - the image of the seated Mother nursing the infant Christ - was a traditional subject for sculpture, and the schiacciato style directly recalls Donatello's technique, which the young artist emulated in only this work. The Madonna has grandeur and gravity. She holds her son firmly, yet without any apparent affection. This is a trait characteristic of Michelangelo – her eyes do not even fall on the child. She uses beautiful hands to gather her robe around the child, who turns his strong neck and back towards the viewer. Like many of his later pieces, the relief remained unfinished in detail.

Lorenzo “the Magnificent” died in 1492. The inscription around his death mask records that the world fell apart at his passing. Certainly, an era ended, for Florence, Italy, and Michelangelo. Without a patron or regular income, Michelangelo waited for a year, following the Medicis to Bologna. He remained there for three years.

Michelangelo returned temporarily to his father’s house, so depressed that he could do nothing for days. His older brother, Lionardo, had become a Dominican friar, essentially making Michelangelo the eldest son. When he did begin to work again, he purchased an 18’ high block of marble that had been lying exposed for thirty-five years and was therefore inexpensive. He wished to create a statue of Hercules. This statue has been lost, but its sheer size challenged the talents of the ancients. The artist was not yet twenty years old.

In exchange for permission to study corpses in the mortuary (a practice strictly forbidden by the Church), Michelangelo created a wooden crucifix for the high altar of the Prior of Santo Spirito. It was thought that this was lost, but some believe it is the crucifix that still hangs in Santo Spirito. If so, the smooth lines of Christ are very uncharacteristic of his work.

Michelangelo then fled to Venice during the political unrest of the time. Here he completed several statues for the Arca di San Domenico in the Church of San Domenico. He then moved to Rome, studied the newly unearthed Roman ruins, and produced Bacchus, his first masterpiece. In Bacchus, he amplified the classical idea of beauty in a sensual human form.

Around this time, he also created La Pieta, his first large religious sculpture, showing Mary in her grief. The grace and finish in this piece are unmatched in any of his later works. Accustomed as modern eyes are to this piece, we are unable to see it with fresh eyes. It was, however, a novelty in 1500. The subject matter was an old French and German one, but the composition was bold and new. The problem of tiny Mary holding a large man had always been a problem. Michelangelo created a pyramid of marble with Mary’s robes, nestling her Son in the folds. It is interesting that this is his only signed sculpture. The monumental marble David soon followed, in 1504, showing the Biblical hero waiting for Goliath. A symbol of the proud independence of the Florentine republic, David is a powerful evocation of athletic prowess and dynamic action.

By this time, Michelangelo was supporting his father and four brothers, although when he created La Pieta, he was penniless, ill, and lacking food. Lodovico never understood his son’s talent, even when Popes were demanding his work, except to realize that it brought money and prestige to the family.

As Michelangelo’s fame grew, he accepted more work than he could complete. This upset him, since he expected perfection from himself, and he became increasingly absorbed in his work. It is a popular myth that Michelangelo worked alone, but it is most definitely a myth. He claimed that he had no friends and wanted none. He viciously denounced almost everyone he knew, and it is said that he was unable to keep servants and assistants. The truth is that he never fired anyone, although he was known to dock pay. He employed many for ten, twenty, thirty or more years, paid them generously, and housed them.

Michelangelo probably created his famous painting Holy Family with the young Saint John (Tondo Doni) between 1505 and 1507, on the birth of Agnolo Doni and Maddalena Strozzi's first daughter. Very characteristic of his style, it shows the peculiar twisting of the limbs and the emphasis on muscles, a pattern that clearly appears in Michelangelo’s sculptures. Brightness of colours and lighting effects emphasize the sacred figures. The nudes on the background, whose poses and gestures are all connected to classical sculptures, symbolize the world before the coming of Christ. On the right, the little Saint John indicates the passage, through the baptism, from the pagan age to the Christian age. Michelangelo himself projected and perhaps worked the frame, where, as well as the Strozzi coat of arms (three half moon), are the Saviour’s head in the upper side and four heads explained as prophets, sybils or angels.

About a year after David, Pope Julius II summoned Michelangelo to Rome to work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo made every effort to get out of painting the vault of the Chapel. He pleaded that painting was not his art and that he would not be able to succeed. The Pope refused to listen. Like all of Michelangelo’s work, though, once he resigned himself to the job, he threw himself into it passionately. From 1508 until 1512, he laboured to paint nearly 10,000 square feet of a leaky, irregular vault. In these panels, he illustrated the Story of Genesis with scenes of God creating the world, the story of Adam and Eve, the story of Noah and the great flood.

When he stopped painting to work on Pope Julius II’s tomb, it was on a more modest scale than originally planned. Still, it contained some of his finest work. He felt much pressured by his patrons. “I cannot live under pressures from patrons, let alone paint.”

In 1519, Michelangelo was asked to design the Laurentian Library and his skills as an architect came into play. Much of his work was inspired by Greco-Roman style, but he used his creative vision to expand on this.

Between 1519 and 1534, while residing in Florence once again, Michelangelo accepted the commission of the Medici Tombs for the New Sacristy of San Lorenzo. His design called for two large wall tombs facing each other across a high, domed room. One was intended for Lorenzo de Medici, duke of Urbino, the other for Giuliano de Medici, duke of Nemours. Magnificent nude personifications of Dawn and Dusk were placed beneath the seated Lorenzo; Day and Night beneath Giuliano. Reclining river gods were planned for the bottom but were never executed.

He returned to the Sistine Chapel to paint the Last Judgement over the altar, between 1535 and 1541, commissioned by Pope Paul III.

In 1546, at age 71, Michelangelo was made chief architect for the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Basilica. This was the largest and most spectacular building in Western Christendom. It was also a great source of headaches for Michelangelo. He complained that many mistakes were made because he, old and sometimes incapacitated, was not always able to come to the construction site. Although Duke Cosimo de Medici tried to convince him to return to Florence, Michelangelo devoted the last twenty years of his life to the magnificent Basilica.

On a cold, rainy day in 1564, he went riding in the countryside and returned with a fever. Six days later, just two weeks shy of his eighty-ninth birthday, he was dead. Unlike great artists before his time, Michelangelo did not hide his personality behind the art. His personality, pride and independence manifest through his work. Michelangelo’s art is more individual than any other artist of his time or before.

Medieval art appeared ashamed of the body. The body was sinful, hidden behind long robes. The Renaissance rejected this, but never so strongly as did Michelangelo Buonarroti. To him, man’s body was the pinnacle of creation, the embodiment of beauty, and the true and proper object of ideal art. The nudes and pagan elements in Renaissance art – and especially that of Michelangelo – were not a deliberate challenge to the Church. Instead, they were meant to break with tradition, and showed a naïve enchantment with nature. Even in his later years, Michelangelo added masses of nudes to his Last Judgement – not realizing that the tide had turned and people viewed his innocent nudes as obscene. Cardinals and papal officials were so offended that they hired artists to paint garments over some of his figures.

There are three basic aspects to Michelangelo’s art:

1. NudityExpression is not limited to the face, but extends to the entire body. Each figure has internal tension, and all are in constant motion. His secret was “contrapposta”: the twisting of one part of the body in the opposite direction from the other (i.e., legs to the left, chest and arms to the right) He rejected symmetry in the posing of bodies.

2. Grandeur – This means both loftiness and heroic stature, and both apply. He shows a preference for superhuman dimension. The little shepherd boy David becomes a giant. He once expressed a desire to carve a whole mountain into a statue. Sheer physical size, though, is immaterial. Every piece of work is stamped with mastery; his slightest sketch has a life of its own.

3. Energy – All of his art has pathos and surges with energy. Passion may be leashed or unleashed, but it is always present. Beginning works breathe harmony and serenity, but as his creative character develops, violence bursts forth.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by Michelangelo’s work, to see the grandeur and energy but ignore the mundane details.

Carving marble is difficult work. David and La Pieta did not gradually emerge from the stone as a figure raised out of water, as Michelangelo’s biographer, Giorgio Vasari, said. Marbling carving is loud, dirty, and hard work. It is also unforgiving. With no goggles to protect his eyes, Michelangelo had to strike the stone at exactly the right place, in the right angle and with the right amount of force, tens of thousands of times for each sculpture.

Had Michelangelo carved only David, or painted only the Sistine Chapel, or erected only St. Peter’s, he would have made an everlasting mark on history. Instead, he created all three and many more. He lived through the reign of thirteen Popes and worked for nine of them. Giorgio Vasari accurately wrote about him that “the ancients are surpassed by the beauty and grace of what his divine genius has been able to achieve.”

Michelangelo Buonarotti – the equal of the ancients.

A listing of Michelangelo's works as a

Holy Family (1503-05)
Sistine Chapel (1508-12)
The Last Judgment (1534-41)
Conversion of St. Paul (1542-45)
Crucifixion of St. Peter (1542-50)

Madonna of the Stairs (~ 1492)
Battle of the Centaurs (~ 1492)
Crucifixion (~ 1494)
Bacchus (1497)
PietÀ (1499)
David (1501-04)
Madonna and Child (1501-04)
Madonna and Child with the Infant St. John (~ 1503)
Madonna and Child (~ 1503)
Dying Slave (~ 1513)
Rebellious Slave (~ 1513)
Moses (~ 1515)
Crouching Boy (~ 1524)
Medici Madonna (1524-34)
Tomb of Giuliano de' Medici (1524-34)
Tomb of Lorenzo de' Medici II (1524-34)
Captives (1527-28)
Victory (1532-34)
Pietà (1550-56)
Rondanini Pietà (1552-64)

Medici Chapel (1519-34)
Laurentian Library (1523-59)
Capitoline Hill (1538-64)
Palazzo Farnese (1547)
St. Peter's Dome (1557-58)

As a collegue noder mentioned, Michelangelo, made a second David,
but it was lost when it was shipped to France.

Lost works
- David with the head of Goliath, bronze sculpture
(A sketch of the statue can be found in the Louvre)
- Statue of pope Julius, bronze sculpture.
- A Bronze dagger.

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