Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, called Michelangelo, was an artist during the Renaissance. He was born in Italy in 1475. He was brilliant and talented in many ways; he could paint, sculpt, design buildings, and write poetry. He is best known for his sculptures and frescos (paintings on wet plaster).
When Michelangelo was a child, his mother became ill and couldn’t care for him, so he was sent to live with a stonecutter and his wife. Michelangelo joked that this is where he learned to love cutting stone into sculpture.
Michelangelo spent years studying the human body. He even looked at dead bodies so he could learn the way the muscles and bones were attached and how arms and legs moved. He drew sketches of people in various positions, concentrating on getting the muscles just right. Many of these sketches still exist so we can see how Michelangelo prepared to create his masterpieces.
Michelangelo was very religious and many of his masterpieces show religious scenes or people from the bible. One of his most famous sculptures was David, the biblical hero who defeated Goliath. The sculpture was originally meant to stand in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. Today, a copy of Michelangelo’s work stands in this place (shown on the left). David is the statue on the left side of the door. The original (on the right side of the page) is in the Accademia, a Florence museum.
Michelangelo believed that there was a sculpture in every piece of stone. He tried to let the stone speak to him and become what it was meant to be. His job as the artist was to free the sculpture from the stone.
Among his most famous paintings is the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican in Italy. It is made up of many panels illustrating scenes from the bible which Michelangelo painted directly onto the ceiling. A picture of the ceiling is shown below. I’ll write a post on the Sistine Chapel ceiling later this week and talk about some of the scenes and how Michelangelo painted this masterpiece.
When Michelangelo died in 1564, he had become one of the most known and admired artists of his time. He was even called “Il Divino” which means “the divine one.”