60 Facts About Michelangelo


Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known as Michelangelo, was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet of the High Renaissance.


Michelangelo was lauded by contemporary biographers as the most accomplished artist of his era.


Michelangelo achieved fame early; two of his best-known works, the Pieta and David, were sculpted before the age of thirty.


Michelangelo transformed the plan so that the western end was finished to his design, as was the dome, with some modification, after his death.


Michelangelo was the first Western artist whose biography was published while he was alive.


Attempts by subsequent artists to imitate the expressive physicality of Michelangelo's style contributed to the rise of Mannerism, a short-lived movement in Western art following the High Renaissance.


Michelangelo's mother was Francesca di Neri del Miniato di Siena.


Michelangelo showed no interest in his schooling, preferring to copy paintings from churches and seek the company of other painters.


The sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti had laboured for fifty years to create the north and east bronze doors of the Baptistry, which Michelangelo was to describe as "The Gates of Paradise".


The interiors of the older churches were covered with frescos, begun by Giotto and continued by Masaccio in the Brancacci Chapel, both of whose works Michelangelo studied and copied in drawings.


In 1488, at age 13, Michelangelo was apprenticed to Ghirlandaio.


From 1490 to 1492, Michelangelo attended the Platonic Academy, a Humanist academy founded by the Medici.


Michelangelo worked for a time with the sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni.


Michelangelo left the security of the Medici court and returned to his father's house.


Michelangelo left the city before the end of the political upheaval, moving to Venice and then to Bologna.


Michelangelo returned to Florence but received no commissions from the new city government under Savonarola.


Michelangelo was asked by the consuls of the Guild of Wool to complete an unfinished project begun 40 years earlier by Agostino di Duccio: a colossal statue of Carrara marble portraying David as a symbol of Florentine freedom to be placed on the gable of Florence Cathedral.


Michelangelo responded by completing his most famous work, the statue of David, in 1504.


Michelangelo was then commissioned to paint the Battle of Cascina.


Also during this period, Michelangelo was commissioned by Angelo Doni to paint a "Holy Family" as a present for his wife, Maddalena Strozzi.


In 1505 Michelangelo was invited back to Rome by the newly elected Pope Julius II and commissioned to build the Pope's tomb, which was to include forty statues and be finished in five years.


Under the patronage of the pope, Michelangelo experienced constant interruptions to his work on the tomb in order to accomplish numerous other tasks.


Michelangelo was originally commissioned to paint the Twelve Apostles on the triangular pendentives that supported the ceiling, and to cover the central part of the ceiling with ornament.


Michelangelo persuaded Pope Julius II to give him a free hand and proposed a different and more complex scheme, representing the Creation, the Fall of Man, the Promise of Salvation through the prophets, and the genealogy of Christ.


From 1513 to 1516, Pope Leo was on good terms with Pope Julius's surviving relatives, so encouraged Michelangelo to continue work on Julius's tomb, but the families became enemies again in 1516 when Pope Leo tried to seize the Duchy of Urbino from Julius's nephew Francesco Maria I della Rovere.


Pope Leo then had Michelangelo stop working on the tomb, and commissioned him to reconstruct the facade of the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence and to adorn it with sculptures.


Michelangelo spent three years creating drawings and models for the facade, as well as attempting to open a new marble quarry at Pietrasanta specifically for the project.


Michelangelo used his own discretion to create the composition of the Medici Chapel, which houses the large tombs of two of the younger members of the Medici family, Giuliano, Duke of Nemours, and Lorenzo, his nephew.


In 1524, Michelangelo received an architectural commission from the Medici pope for the Laurentian Library at San Lorenzo's Church.


Michelangelo designed both the interior of the library itself and its vestibule, a building utilising architectural forms with such dynamic effect that it is seen as the forerunner of Baroque architecture.


Michelangelo fell out of favour with the young Alessandro Medici, who had been installed as the first Duke of Florence.


In Rome, Michelangelo lived near the church of Santa Maria di Loreto.


Michelangelo ignored the usual artistic conventions in portraying Jesus, showing him as a massive, muscular figure, youthful, beardless and naked.


Michelangelo is surrounded by saints, among whom Saint Bartholomew holds a drooping flayed skin, bearing the likeness of Michelangelo.


Michelangelo worked on a number of architectural projects at this time.


Michelangelo designed the upper floor of the Palazzo Farnese and the interior of the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, in which he transformed the vaulted interior of an Ancient Roman bathhouse.


In 1546, Michelangelo was appointed architect of St Peter's Basilica, Rome.


Michelangelo returned to the concepts of Bramante, and developed his ideas for a centrally planned church, strengthening the structure both physically and visually.


Michelangelo was a devout Catholic whose faith deepened at the end of his life.


In 1542, Michelangelo met Cecchino dei Bracci who died only a year later, inspiring Michelangelo to write 48 funeral epigrams.


Late in life, Michelangelo nurtured a great platonic love for the poet and noble widow Vittoria Colonna, whom he met in Rome in 1536 or 1538 and who was in her late forties at the time.


Condivi recalls Michelangelo's saying that his sole regret in life was that he did not kiss the widow's face in the same manner that he had her hand.


Michelangelo commented that he thought he had encountered the chief of police with such an assemblage, and Raphael replied that he thought he had met an executioner, as they are wont to walk alone.


The Madonna of the Stairs is Michelangelo's earliest known work in marble.


The painting heralds the forms, movement and colour that Michelangelo was to employ on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.


The kneeling Angel is an early work, one of several that Michelangelo created as part of a large decorative scheme for the Arca di San Domenico in the church dedicated to that saint in Bologna.


Michelangelo's Bacchus was a commission with a specified subject, the youthful God of Wine.


The sculpture has all the traditional attributes, a vine wreath, a cup of wine and a fawn, but Michelangelo ingested an air of reality into the subject, depicting him with bleary eyes, a swollen bladder and a stance that suggests he is unsteady on his feet.


The works give a unique insight into the sculptural methods that Michelangelo employed and his way of revealing what he perceived within the rock.


Michelangelo, who was reluctant to take the job, persuaded the Pope to give him a free hand in the composition.


Michelangelo began painting with the later episodes in the narrative, the pictures including locational details and groups of figures, the Drunkenness of Noah being the first of this group.


Michelangelo's relief of the Battle of the Centaurs, created while he was still a youth associated with the Medici Academy, is an unusually complex relief in that it shows a great number of figures involved in a vigorous struggle.


In 1546 Michelangelo produced the highly complex ovoid design for the pavement of the Campidoglio and began designing an upper storey for the Farnese Palace.


Michelangelo returned to Bramante's design, retaining the basic form and concepts by simplifying and strengthening the design to create a more dynamic and unified whole.


Michelangelo smashed the left arm and leg of the figure of Jesus.


The last sculpture that Michelangelo worked on, the Rondanini Pieta could never be completed because Michelangelo carved it away until there was insufficient stone.


Michelangelo's body was taken from Rome for interment at the Basilica of Santa Croce, fulfilling the maestro's last request to be buried in his beloved Florence.


Michelangelo employed Francesco Granacci, who was his fellow pupil at the Medici Academy, and became one of several assistants on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.


Michelangelo appears to have used assistants mainly for the more manual tasks of preparing surfaces and grinding colours.


Artists who were directly influenced by Michelangelo include Raphael, whose monumental treatment of the figure in the School of Athens and The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple owes much to Michelangelo, and whose fresco of Isaiah in Sant'Agostino closely imitates the older master's prophets.