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Michelangelo Essay, Research Paper

Michelangelo Buonarroti was born March 6, 1475 in the small village of Caprese, Italy. A sculptor, architect, painter, and poet that did his work in the Italian high renaissance. Michelangelo’s father, Ludovico Buonarroti had connection to the prominent Medici family. He studies at the gardens when he was 15 years old and was invited into the household of Lorenzo de’ Medici, the magnificent. Michelangelo’s future was shaped to a large degree by his life in Lorenzo’s household. When Lorenzo died in 1942 at the age of 43, Michelangelo designed the tombs for Lorenzo as well as his brother, Guiliano de Medici. The two complex tombs were conceived as representing opposite types. Lorenzo’s, the contemplative, introspective personality while Guiliano’s, the active, extroverted one. He put magnificent nude representations of dawn and dusk on Lorenzo’s tomb and representations of day and night on Guiliano’s tomb. Work on the Medici tombs continued long after Michelangelo went back to Rome in 1534.

In 1505 Michelangelo was called back to Rome by Pope Julius II in for two commissions. The most important one was for the frescoes of the Sistine chapel ceiling. Working lying on his back on scaffolding, Michelangelo painted between 1508 and 1512 some of the finest pictorial images of all time. On the vault of the papal chapel, he devised an intricate system of decoration that included nine scenes from the Book of Genesis. Beginning with God Separating Light from Darkness and including the creation of Adam, the Creation of Eve, the Temptation and Fall of Adam and Eve, and the Flood. In order for him to prepare for this enormous work Michelangelo drew numerous figure studies and cartoons, devising scores of figure types and poses. These images, demonstrating Michelangelo’s masterly understanding of human anatomy and movement, changed the course of painting in the west.

Before the assignment of the Sistine ceiling in 1505, Michelangelo had been commissioned by Julius II to create his tomb. Michelangelo enthusiastically went ahead with the challenging project of more than forty figures, spending months in the quarries to obtain the necessary Carrara marble. Due to a money shortage the pope ordered him to put aside the tomb project in favor of painting the ceiling of the Sistine chapel. When Michelangelo went back to work on the tomb, he redesigned it on a much more modest scale. However Michelangelo made some of his finest sculpture for the Julius tomb, including the Moses now located in Rome’s church of San Pietro in Vincoli. The muscular patriarch sits alertly in a shallow niche, holding the tablets of the Ten Commandments. Pope Julius II was a self-willed and violent patron for eight years tormented Michelangelo’s life. However without Julius II, Michelangelo might never have had the opportunity of developing the full power of his imagination.

From 1501-1504 Michelangelo worked on his most recognizable sculpture “the David” after returning to Florence. The sculpture shows a nude youth, muscular and alert looking off into the distance waiting for his enemy Goliath. “The David became a symbol of Florence.

In Rome in 1536, Michelangelo was working on the Last Judgement for the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel, which he finished in 1541. The Largest fresco of the Renaissance, it depicts Judgment day. Christ with a clap of thunder puts into motion the inevitable separation, with the saved ascending on the left side of the painting and the damned descending on the right into hell. Michelangelo painted his own image in the flayed skin of St. Bartholomew. Pope Leo X commissioned this fresco.

In May 1519 Leonardo da Vinci, his old rival, died at the age of 67. Raphael, his young rival, died at the age of only 37 in April 1520. The three names whose names together defined the High Renaissance, Michelangelo was the only one left at the age of 45. He called himself an “old man” prone to illness, abused by life, haunted by the premonitory shadow of death. He was wrong, 45 was middle age for him as he died when he was 90. Michelangelo worked right up until his last week. He worked on a pieta that was very different from the one he originally created from 1498- 1500 in his early twenties. The one he first created was his only signed work. The virgin holds the body of Christ on her lap, where as on his later pieta she no longer supports Christ but leans over him in an embrace. Michelangelo died at the end of the Renaissance era when art was moving into the Baroque era. Michelangelo ruled the Renaissance with his artwork.








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