Born Michelangelo Buonarroti, Michelangelo was the dominant artist of the Italian High Renaissance, arguably the greatest sculptor in the history of Western art, as well as a notable painter, draughtsman, and architect. Born in Caprese in central Italy, Michelangelo was the son of a minor Florentine government of­ficial. Against his father's wishes, he determined to become an artist and at the age of thirteen apprenticed to the workshop of the popular Florentine painter Domenico Ghirlandaio. He seems to have found the shop or the painting un­congenial, for he left the studio before completing his apprenticeship and moved to the Medici household in 1490, where an "art school" was being established by Lorenzo de' Medici. There he was exposed to the collection of ancient and contemporary sculpture, to other sculptors—most notably, Bertoldo di Giovanni, pupil of Donatello—and to the highest circles of humanist intellectual discourse. He later claimed to have taught himself how to carve stone; his sculptures from this period (Madonna of the Steps and Battle of Lapiths and Centaurs, Florence, Casa Buonarroti, c. 1490-92) reveal a young artist of enormous talent who has not yet totally conquered issues of space, anatomy, and composition.
When Lorenzo died in 1492, Michelangelo went in search of new patronage, first to Bologna, then by 1496 to Rome, where he immediately achieved success and received important commissions. His first Pieta (Rome, St. Peter's, 1498­1500) revealed him as an outstanding master of the High Renaissance style. Its character of idealized naturalism and the beauty of its carving established the artist's reputation. He returned to Florence in 1501 to begin work on the David (Florence, Accademia, 1501-4). Colossal, classicizing, naturalistic, and filled with an awesome psychological tension that was peculiar to the artist, the David ensured that Michelangelo would be seen as a peerless master who had surpassed the achievements of antiquity.
As he finished the David, Michelangelo was commissioned to paint a fresco of The Battle of Cascina (1504) in the town hall of Florence; Leonardo da Vinci had earlier received a commission for another battle fresco in the same room, so this work put the young artist into direct competition with the greatest artist known to Florence. Michelangelo was eager to show off his skill, but he never completed the commission, for he received a more tempting offer: a project to carve the most elaborate tomb ever designed for Pope Julius II* at St. Peter's. This expensive, time-consuming project would bedevil the artist for most of his life, as the patrons repeatedly canceled and reinstated the commission.
In 1508 Julius II decided that Michelangelo could serve him better by painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; under the strongest protests, the sculptor turned to the massive fresco program, which he designed and painted almost entirely on his own in the years 1508-12. Within and around a painted architectural framework, Michelangelo depicted nine scenes from Genesis, twelve prophets and sibyls, and dozens of subsidiary scenes and figures. Taking the male nude as his primary subject, he described a heroic, grandiose world where God's plan for salvation was initially revealed.
Michelangelo continued to work intermittently on Julius's tomb after the Sis-tine Chapel, but his next major project was a mausoleum for the Medicis to be added to the family church of San Lorenzo in Florence. The artist designed the architecture, ornamentation, and sculptural ensembles of the "New Sacristy" between 1519 and 1534. At the same time, he also designed a new library for the same church. Michelangelo's architecture could not be called classicizing; he used forms in unexpected ways, avoided balance and harmony, and made the viewer aware of spaces in an expressive way.
In 1534 Michelangelo moved to Rome, where he spent the rest of his life. Commissioned to paint the Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel (1536-41), he rejected his earlier notions of grandeur and heroism to create a vision of the end of that time that was profoundly pessimistic. He was strongly affected by the Reformation and produced an image that was markedly unbal­anced, whose figures were distorted and often ugly, and whose overall focus was on sin and damnation rather than salvation. It retained his characteristic profound expression, but no longer accepted the idealization of High Renais­sance art.
As his strength waned, Michelangelo produced fewer sculptures in his old age; his primary preoccupation from 1546 to his death was designing the Church of St. Peter. Building on the ideas of Donato Bramante, in particular, he sought to produce a centralized structure on a huge scale that would be monumental, impressive, and unified. The complex structure was topped by a gigantic dome that created a dramatic, upward emphasis on both the interior and exterior of the church.
The most famous sculptor in history during his own lifetime, Michelangelo has continued to be the model of artistic talent to the current day. His enormous skill goes without saying; it is his originality, his dedication, and his profound understanding of human experience that make his art so powerful. The modern notion of the artist as a solitary genius and the concept of artistry as a combi­nation of intellect, individuality, proficiency, and inventiveness are exemplified by Michelangelo's career.
H. Hibbard, Michelangelo, 1985.
C. de Tolnay, Michelangelo, 5 vols., 1947-60.
Jane C. Long

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Michelangelo — Buonarroti in einem Porträt von Jacopino del Conte …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Michelangelo —   [mike landʒelo], eigentlich Michelangelo Buonarrọti, italienischer Bildhauer, Maler und Architekt, * Caprese (heute Caprese Michelangelo, Provinz Arezzo) 6. 3. 1475, ✝ Rom 18. 2. 1564; Hauptmeister der Hochrenaissance und bedeutendster… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Michelangelo — (m[imac] k[e^]l*[a^]n j[ e]*l[ o]; It. pron. m[ e] k[e^]l*[aum]n j[ e]*l[ o]) prop. n. Michelangelo Buonarroti, renowned Italian painter, sculptor and architect; 1475 1564. [WordNet 1.5] Born Michelagnolo Buonarroti at Caprese, March 6, 1475:… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Michelangelo — (spr. mikel ándschelo, eigentlich M. Buonarroti), ital. Bildhauer, Maler und Architekt, geb. 6. März 1475 im toskanischen Städtchen Caprese, wo sein Vater Richter von Chiusi und Caprese war, gest. 18. Febr. 1564 in Rom, wurde 1476, als die Eltern …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Michelangelo B&B — (Лечче,Италия) Категория отеля: Адрес: Via Della Sinagoga 12 (Check in at Via Umbe …   Каталог отелей

  • Michelangelo — (Монтеварки,Италия) Категория отеля: Адрес: 52025 Монтеварки, Италия …   Каталог отелей

  • Michelangelo — (spr. mikelándschelo), eigentlich Michelangelo Buonarroti, ital. Bildhauer, Maler und Architekt, geb. 6. März 1475 zu Caprese bei Florenz, Schüler des Malers Ghirlandajo und des Bildhauers Bertoldo in Florenz, 1505 von Papst Julius II. nach Rom… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Michelangelo — m Italian: compound made up of Michele MICHAEL (SEE Michael) + angelo angel. Its best known bearer was the Florentine painter, sculptor, architect, and poet Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564) …   First names dictionary

  • Michelangelo — [mī΄kəl an′jə lō΄, mik΄əlan′jə lō΄] (full name Michelangelo Buonarroti) 1475 1564; It. sculptor, painter, architect, & poet …   English World dictionary

  • Michelangelo — For other uses, see Michelangelo (disambiguation). Michelangelo Portrait of Michelangelo …   Wikipedia

  • Michelangelo — /muy keuhl an jeuh loh , mik euhl /; It. /mee kel ahn je law/, n. (Michelangelo Buonarroti) 1475 1564, Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet. * * * (as used in expressions) Michelangelo Merisi Antonioni Michelangelo Michelangelo di… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.