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Art History

Happy Birthday Michelangelo

Happy birthday to Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (better known as just Michelangelo) born this day in 1475!

​Michelangelo is considered one of the greatest artists of all time in Western Art.  He was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet who lived in the Republic of Florence during the High Renaissance period.

Michelangelo lived at the palace of Florentine ruler Lorenzo the Magnificent of the Medici family.  While there he studied under famous sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni.  The Medici family had a vast collection that exposed him to many of the great artists of past centuries, such as Giotto, Masaccio, and Donatello, as well as masterpieces of ancient Greece and Rome.

Best known works include:

  • Sculptures Pieta and David
  • Frescoes scenes from Genesis on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel
  • Architecture of St. Peter’s Basilica

Pietà, marble sculpture by Michelangelo, 1499; in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome. SCALA/Art Resource, New York

David, marble sculpture by Michelangelo, 1501–04; in the Accademia, Florence. © 2006 Index Open
Some interesting facts about Michelangelo:

  • He died on February 18, 1564 at the age of 88.
  • He was considered an expert in portraying the human form.  He drew from life and studied the anatomy of human corpses.
  • His style included complex, twisting figures and vibrant colors.
  • The Creation of Adam is one of Michelangelo’s most recognizable works, however the fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel depicts nine different scenes from the book of Genesis.
  • ​Although his fresco of the Creation of Adam may be his most known work, the majority of his works are sculptures.
  • A committee was created to decide on the placement of Michelangelo’s sculpture David (placed in front of the Palazzo Vecchio).  This committee was composed of Leonardo da Vinci and Sandro Botticelli.
  • His style helped lead to the later artistic movement of Mannerism, in which the human body was idealized with a deliberately stylized form of sophisticated art.
  • Artist Raphael Sanzio was strongly influenced by the work of Michelangelo.

The Creation of Adam, detail of a ceiling fresco by Michelangelo, 1508–12; in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City. SuperStock
What do you like best about Michelangelo’s work?

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