Facts about Michelangelo
Michelangelo is considered one of the greatest artists in world history. Along with Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, he is regarded as one of the three most remarkable Renaissance artists. He was an artist of many talents, painting, sculpting, creating architectural designs and writing poetry. In his seemingly fulfilled life as an artist, he remained an unfulfilled human being, lacking familial warmth, love, and an unconditional sense of self-worth.
1His real name was Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni.
He was born on March 6, 1475, in Caprese, Tuscany, in the province of Arezzo.
2The family Buonarroti Simoni was one of the old Florentine families.
When Michelangelo was a few weeks old infant, the family moved to Florence.
3His parents were Francesca di Neri di Miniato del Sera and Lodovico Michelangelo Buonarroti Simoni.
His mother died when Michelangelo was six years old. She left five sons as orphans. The father remarried, but the second wife was unable to establish a close relationship with her stepchildren. She died rather quickly and the boys were left alone with their father.
4Lodovico was not interested in the children, for whom he was cold and strict, especially Michelangelo.
Unfortunately, the father was a man whose only interest in life was money, which he wasn't able to earn. He dreamed of a life of wealth and abundance, which he believed was justified by his noble birth (the family was supposedly related to the Counts of Canossa).
5Lodovico felt that he was special because of his count connections.
His family pride and love of spending money passed on to his children.
6Michelangelo showed artistic interests at a young age.
However, it was unthinkable for his father to profit from being an artist.
7The son overcame his father's resistance and entered the studio of Domenico Ghirlandaio, a famous Florentine painter at the age of thirteen.
He learned the fresco painting technique from him and seemed to have discovered his vocation, but then he became fascinated by sculpture. Again he had to convince his father to change his decisions.
8After a year of apprenticeship in a painter's studio, he moved to the studio of the sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni.
Bertoldo di Giovanni managed the Medici collection and introduced Michelangelo to the ruler of Florence, Lorenzo de' Medici - one of the most influential politicians of the Renaissance as well as a writer, patron of the arts, poet and humanist. He remained at his court for two years, from 1490 to 1492.
9When he achieved his first successes as a young boy, his father was only interested in whether money could be made from his work.
To his father and brothers, he became the fulfillment of their dreams of a wealthy life. In their opinion, he should do everything to satisfy his relatives' needs. The demands on him grew. He was accused of not doing what could make the family enough money. Michelangelo never felt valued, mattering in the family. He worked hard to prove to his father and brothers that he was worthy of their love.
10Michelangelo was given special care at the Medici court by Lorenzo de'Medici, who was interested in his work.
He provided him with an apartment on the palace grounds, an education, and a steady salary.
11His education was handled by two thinkers and philosophers, Marsilio Ficino, the Athenian school founder in Florence and one of the most famous figures of the early Renaissance, and Count Giovanni della Mirandola.
Michelangelo, then seventeen years old, created the bas-reliefs Madonna at the Stairs and Battle of the Centaurs. These two reliefs are now in the Casa Buonarroti in Florence.
12Two years later, while in Bologna, he carved a candelabrum in the form of a kneeling naked angel and statues of saints: Petronius and Proculius, San Domenico.
Michelangelo left the Medici Palace after the death of Lorenzo the Magnificent. He returned to his family home and worked on a sculpture of Hercules (this work was lost in the 18th century).
13Wanting to learn more about human anatomy, he secretly performed autopsies in the hospital (Santo Spirito Monastery).
As a token of his gratitude, Michelangelo carved a wooden crucifix for the monastery, which is the only polychrome wooden sculpture in the artist's oeuvre.
14Michelangelo left Florence for Rome in 1496.
He had previously been commissioned by his cousin Lorenzo the Magnificent to produce a sculpture of a sleeping Cupid. Since the work had all the characteristics of an ancient statue, Lorenzo's cousin persuaded Michelangelo to have it patinated.
The "antique" work thus prepared was sold to merchants and made its way to Rome. There, Raphael Riario, the titular cardinal of San Giorgio al Velabro, an art connoisseur and protector of artists, bought the Cupid. The cardinal found out that the sculpture was made in Florence. Thanks to this event, Michelangelo found himself in Rome, where he completed other commissions, including the statue of Bacchus, another version of Cupid and the Vatican Pieta.
15At his father's request, Michelangelo returned to Florence, where he undertook the statue of David.
The statue stood in front of the palace of the Signoria of Florence. During this time, he also created the sculpture of the Madonna and Child, which was initially intended for Siena Cathedral but was eventually bought by a Bruges merchant and sent there. It was one of the few Michelangelo sculptures sold abroad during the artist's lifetime in Italy.
16Michelangelo created several works for the Florence Cathedral.
These included statues for the Piccolomini Altarpiece and twelve statues of the apostles. He was also offered to decorate a wall in the Palazzo Vecchio, opposite to a battle painting begun and not completed by Leonardo da Vinci.
17Michelangelo worked for seven popes in Rome.
The first of these was Julius II, for whom Buonarroti began a tomb that was to consist of about 40 statues. However, he was forced to interrupt this work to make a bronze statue of the Pope in Bologna. After a few years, he returned to work on Julius II's tomb. Between 1508 and 1512, he worked on the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.
18Michelangelo loved Florence, but his most exciting assignments were in Rome.
He was eager to take advantage of them because he felt it would enhance his position as a well-known and admired artist. He craved greatness, recognition, and fame, but behaved as if it did not interest him. He came into conflict with the Pope, became offended, failed to meet deadlines for completing his work, threw out his assistants, and did not care for himself at all. He was also an angry and violent man. He had a reputation for being a problematic and controversial artist. And yet, even during his lifetime, he attained the position of a master, revered, esteemed, an outstanding and unique person.
19He was painting the Last Judgment on the Sistine Chapel's altar wall from 1534 to 1541.
As a young man, Michelangelo was greatly impressed by the sermons of Girolamo Savonarola, a Dominican monk from the monastery of San Marco in Florence. Under these sermons' influence, a powerful conflict arose in him between passion and joy of creation and humility and asceticism. Savonarola criticized everything that draws man away from God, including art. He extinguished the Renaissance joy of the young artist and introduced an atmosphere of condemnation.
Michelangelo left Florence four years before the Savonarola's execution and later burning of the preacher in the city's main square. Still, the doubts the friar had instilled in him remained with him until the end of his life. He expressed them when he painted the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel.
20Michelangelo created many monumental works in Rome.
He led the construction of St. Peter's Basilica and did so until the end of his life. Unfortunately, he did not complete the work. He was also involved in the Capitoline Square design, the construction of S. Maria degli Angeli Church, Palazzo Farnese, and the fortifications. He created countless sculptures, bas-reliefs and paintings.
21The last Pieta he made for the cathedral in Florence was intended in his last will for his tomb.
Michelangelo loved to create significant, monumental things. He was not satisfied with commissions of small forms in small churches or private galleries. He needed big challenges to be fully realized. Michelangelo often refused others' help and took him a great deal of effort to complete an order. He became a self-tormenting loner who shied away from people. He left his studio less and less often, giving the impression of being constantly insatiable, chasing new orders and projects.
22He lived modestly and did not pay much attention to his appearance.
He did not care about his comfort but always looked after his father and brothers, whose appetites for the money and goods he earned were inexhaustible. He had no time for leisure and devoted himself to his work, sculpting and painting, which were his true love.
23He became a very distrustful man, filled with artistic jealousy.
He was convinced of the unkindness of other artists. He considered Leonardo da Vinci his enemy - a man of refinement, a respected artist, respectful and benevolent towards people. He was convinced that Leonardo was working against him to ridicule him and withhold commissions. Michelangelo looked everywhere for conspiracy theories about his person. Meanwhile, thanks to Leonardo, he received many lucrative commissions, including that of the David in Florence. He also found conspiracies in the Vatican - he had a problem with Bramanti, who was responsible for the design of the new St. Peter's Basilica.
24Michelangelo had a similar attitude towards Raphael.
He recognized outstanding talent in the young painter, who admired the master but harbored a deep dislike for him. According to legend, Michelangelo was interested in Raphael's work at the Villa Farnese, where the painter applied frescoes. In Raphael's absence, Michelangelo visited the villa and painted a young man's head in one of the vault's lunettes to convey to the young artist that nothing happens without Michelangelo.
25Michelangelo was well established as a great, admired artist, but as a man, he was feared.
He was unsympathetic to people, clouded and angry, full of resentment and argumentative. He was filled with creative pride, convinced that his supremacy in the world of artists was unthreatened. This constant inner struggle did not bring him a sense of fulfillment.
26He had many plans and dreams connected with his art, but he failed to achieve them all.
As his most significant failure, he considered the completion of Pope Julius II's tomb in the form he had planned. He did not complete many of the sculptures he had commissioned, the sacristy in the church of San Lorenzo Florence, and many others.
27His personal life did not go so well.
He never started a family, lived like a hermit, and didn't have many friends. He made a lot of money, but he gave all his money to his family. And he was constantly dissatisfied, always wanting to create more. He worked until the end of his days.
28Michelangelo sculpted exclusively in marble. Most of the time, he worked alone and only during the creation of the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel he hired thirteen assistants.
He had the peculiar habit of signing his pictures by placing his own image among the painted figures. They can be found in the Sistine Chapel or in the frescoes in the Cappella Paolina.
29Michelangelo began his artistic career as a painter and then devoted the last thirty years to sculpture.
Towards the end of his life, however, he added another form of artistic expression - he wrote poetry.
30He published a number of sonnets and sermons, and the subjects he mainly dealt with were love and death.
Michelangelo's poems were published for the first time in 1623 by his nephew.
31Michelangelo died in Rome in 1564, at the age of 89.
He worked on the Pietà Rondanini almost until his death. He lived with his servant Francesco Armadori, called Urbino, in the modest house of Marcel de'Corvi (today there is a statue of Victor Emmanuel II ) in this place. After his death, thanks to his nephew Lionardo and Cosimo I Medici's efforts, his body was secretly brought to Florence and reburied.
32Two funerals of Michelangelo took place in Florence.
The first, on the day after the body was returned, in the Basilica of Santa Croce. The second funeral ceremony, with an appropriate setting, took place almost five hundred years ago in the Basilica of San Lorenzo. The entire basilica was decorated with black curtains and paintings of scenes from his life. Four statues were placed in the nave, symbolizing painting, sculpture, architecture and poetry. In the central place, there was a sculpture - an allegory of fame. Michelangelo is buried in the basilica of Santa Croce, and his tombstone was designed by Giorgio Vasari.