Michelangelo Di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was born on March 6 1475 in Caprese Italy. His father worked for the government was called, soon after, to work in Florence and it was Florence that Michelangelo would call home.
Michelangelo was born in what we now call the Renaissance Period. The Renaissance was from the 14th century thru the 16th century and it was a time when there was a revival of classical art as well literature and learning. The Renaissance was the period of time where we left the dark ages and began what we know as civilization today.
Michelangelo’s mother died when he was 6. His father did not like his son’s talent for art but reluctantly gave in and so at 13 Michelangelo was apprenticed to painter Domenico Ghirlandaio who specialized in murals a skill that the young artist would put to great use in the future.
A year after his apprenticeship began Michelangelo was noticed by a great lover and patron of the arts, Lorenzo De’ Medici. Medici kept his home filled with the great men of his time. They were literate, poetic and talented men Medici’s mind was stimulated by this and offered Michelangelo a room where he could be among the greatest men that Florence had to offer. By living amongst these great minds Michelangelo would not only learn his own craft but would also be educated in philosophy and politics.
While living in the Medici home Michelangelo would learn to sculpt and it was sculpture that would give the young man his identity.
In 1498 Michelangelo received his first and one of his most important commissions. He was commissioned to do a statue of Mary the mother of Jesus holding her dead son in her arms after the crucifixion. Michelangelo did this by carving the two figures out of one block of marble. The purpose of the statue was to adorn the tomb of a Cardinal. It didn’t stay there for very long and it now rests in the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome. The statue is known as The Pieta.
In 1505 Pope Julius the second commissioned Michelangelo to make sculptures for his own tomb. Michelangelo soon grew tired of the work as he was not being paid. Pope Julius was more of a general that a pope and was often at war. These battles depleted the papal purse and so Michelangelo did not get paid. He gave up the work on the tomb and went back to Florence. He however never completely gave up work on the tomb and would continue to work on it on and off in the coming years.
In 1501 Michelangelo was commissioned by the city of Florence to sculpt a huge figure for the cathedral of Santa Maria del fiore. Michelangelo decided he would depict the young David and did so. The statue is 17 feet tall and still resides in Florence.
In 1508 The Pope called Michelangelo back to Rome, only this time it was a much less expensive job that he was commissioned to do. The Pope wanted the ceiling painted in the chapel where new Popes were both elected and inaugurated. Yes, this was the Sistine Chapel.
The original commission by the Pope was for the 12 apostles to be depicted. But the great artist did much more than that. He painted the 12 apostles, seven prophets and five sibyls. Sibyls are female prophets of myth. This was around the border of the chapel ceiling. In the middle Michelangelo would paint many scenes from the book of Genesis, which includes Adam and God reaching out to touch each other. It took four years for to finish this master piece.
Michelangelo was not only a sculptor and a painter he was also an architect and poet. It is more than likely that we partially get the term Renaissance man from the life of this famous artist. Michelangelo’s volume of work is huge and his artistic legacy lives on to this day. Books have been written and movies made on the life of this famous man. He will never be forgotten as long as civilization exists.
Michelangelo died on February 18, 1564 at the age of 88 an unusually long life span for the people of his time. He is buried at the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence.