Tuesday, August 9, 2011


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Michelangelo Buonarroti

Michelangelo Buonarroti was one of the greatest artists of all time. He excelled in architecture, sculpture, painting, poetry, and engineering. He was a true Renaissance man who lived a long emotional life. Born March 6th, 1475 in the small village of Caprese, Italy, Michelangelo was brought up in the village by a “wet-nurse who was the daughter of a stonecutter and married to one”(Bull ). Michelangelo was not taken back into the family until he was two or three years old. By the time he was ten he was living mostly at the family house in Florence.

In journal entries while growing up Michelangelo was described as an alert, sensitive, intelligent, introspective and quick-tempered boy, prone to sickness, but resilient, with black hair and brown eyes flecked with yellow. During his upbringing he came to enjoy a close friendship with a boy several years older called Francesco Granacci, who had worked with a well-known painter Filippino Lippi. Granacci had recognized Michelangelo’s innate genius, and had a major effect on him by giving him an opportunity to paint and explore his talents. One good feature about Granacci was that he had influential connections, and this meant that talented young men working with him were brought to the notice of prominent people. For the first time in Michelangelo’s life he encountered a multi-layered social world outside the family.

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Michelangelo started doing small projects that showed some artistic ability and it earned him recognition among his peers. He had explored the imitation of nature, the creation of illusionary space, and the representation of mental and spiritual attitudes through bodily gesture and facial expression. “He had worked with Verrocchio, fostering his obsessive skills in portraiture and caricature, and his fascination with interwined curves of knots and plaits” (Bull 46).

In 150, Michelangelo was put to work on the statue of David. Although it was not called David at first, Michelangelo had made much progress that overseers decided that because of the size of the statue it should be named ‘the Giant’, or ‘David’. Michelangelo’s hammer blows and chiseling gradually revealed the full figure, larger than life, the heroic young David of the Old Testament. The statue of David was a mixture of the many influences on Michelangelo’s style. “David reflected his passion for using the disturbingly sensuous male nude to express both the sculptor’s own feelings and the supposed emotions of the subject Michelangelo’s will to confront the world and triumph through his art, and David’s spirit of courage and fortitude against great odds”(Bull 50). The statue of David has been recognized worldwide and has become such a great importance in history, millions of people view it every year to see the detail of the sling with the young sculptor’s bow-shaped hand drill. It was said, “as David overcame his Goliath in the flesh with the sling, so Michelangelo would overcome his giant in marble with the bow”(Bull 6).

Besides sculpting, Michelangelo also wrote poetry and painted. Although his poetry was not as famous as his paintings and sculptures, people still read his sonnets. In one of his sonnets Michelangelo reflected on himself “If my crude hammer shapes the hard stones into one human appearance or another, deriving its motion from the master who guides it…”(Bull ). Most of his poetry was based on love for people he met over the years. One of Michelangelo’s famous paintings was of the Sistine Chapel. The spectacular handwork of the ‘Last Judgment’ and ‘The Creation of Man’ displays Michelangelo at the full stretch of his majesty. He showed the world what great knowledge he had attained in theology.

Michelangelo Buonarroti died, giving himself up to God, on February 18th, 1564, after a slow fever” just two weeks shy of his eighty-ninth birthday. Michelangelo’s doctor stated on that day “this afternoon that most excellent and true miracle of nature, Messer Michelangelo Buonarroti passed from this to a better life”(Bull 68). That same year Galileo and William Shakespeare were born.

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