Michelangelo (Caprese, March 6, 1475 – Rome, February 18, 1564)
Michelangelo, creator of a wonderful monumental and immortal art, impregnated his works with energy, passion and a tremendous creativity accompanied by a splendid personality. He was born in 1475, and was given by his mother was the wife of a stonemason, so he hardly knew her. Despite not having been brought up in his family, he always tried to help them financially. He grew up in Florence and there absorbed the effervescent energies of such an amazing city.
In 1488, he entered the painting workshop of the Ghirlandaio brothers, learning relevant aspects of the trade. In 1490 he experienced the genre of sculpture, his great passion. His avidity and dexterity led him to Prince Lorenzo Medici, who became his first employer, friend and as some say, the father he didn´t have.
After the death of Medici, he studied the human body in a masterly manner, which is evident in each work of art he did later. From 1494 onwards, he would spend his life between Florence and Rome and, backed by the church, he would create impressive works of art that would transcend him. Being 90 years old, he died while he was working on his unfinished work “Pietá Rondanini.”
10 most famous works of Michelangelo
1. The Pietà- 1499-Basilica of Saint Peter
His first ecclesiastic assignment was made when he was 23 years old. It is an impressive sculptural group, worked in a marble that does not perish given the delicacy of its formidable carving. It represents a graceful Mary holding the body of a young Christ lying in her lap, despite the tragic theme, the figures project an immaculate image. It is the only work that bears the imprint of the artist, since his signature can be seen in Maria’s sash.
2. David- 1501-Accademia Gallery, Florence-Italy
Returning to Florence after 5 years in Rome, Michelangelo built his version of “David”, this splendid sculpture about five meters high, presents the young man who fought naked against Goliath, with his brow furrowed, superb pose and head and big hands as hinting at an age close to maturity. It was commissioned to celebrate the new peace in Florence, for that reason, for a time, it rested in its main square as a symbol of its dignity.
3. Moses- 513-1515-San Pietro in Vincoli.
It is one of the three statues that will be created for the tomb of Pope Julius II, his patron, during the Italian Cinquecento. The figure of Moses, contained in fury, supports the tables of the Law of God, and bursts into the classicist aesthetic ideal sprouting from a noble white marble rock in which the corporal proportions, typical of the Renaissance, are splendidly naturalistic, as that the folds of the clothes, which, visually, tame the material from which they emerged.
4. Madonna of Bruges-1501-1504-Church of Our Lady, Bruges-Belgium
With a history of going back and forth to its place of origin, the statue shows the same technical treatment of its predecessor Pietà in the Vatican, the marble, the author’s preferred material, is molded to extract the virgin and the child, the details of the clothes were exquisitely worked, between folds of a marble almost turned into cloth, to surprise with bold volumetric effects evidenced also in the circumspect infant that holds his mother in an immortal and ethereal gesture.
5. The Battle of the Centaurs-1493-Casa Buonarroti, Florence-Italy
The genius of Michelangelo can be seen in this powerful scene of the battle between Greeks and centaurs sculpted when the artist was just 17 years old, it is estimated that the inspiration became at the Medici palace and its execution was close to the death of Lorenzo Medici, important figure in his personal growth as an artist. The material, as in many of his works, was the white marble of Carrara which was donated by Lorenzo himself.
6. Dying Slave-1513-Louvre Museum, Paris
Another of the figures that adorns the mausoleum of Pope Julius II is the statue of the Dying Slave, Michelangelo, following the patterns of the Roman funerary monuments, adorned the tomb of the pontiff with statues of captives. The figure built in marble, after the artist completed his work of 4 years in the Sistine Chapel, retains an almost erotic expressiveness, masterfully capturing the attitude of laxity and long-suffering of the body at the moment in which life evaporates.
7. Risen Christ-1521-Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva of Rome, Italy
Considered one of the admired works of the artist, although he himself did not consider it one of his best works. He had a first version of a rip in marble, the second version, which is referred to, presents Christ naked with wounds, embracing the cross and holding in his left hand the symbols of martyrdom confronted with a deliberate facial gesture. Later, in the Barrocco, a purity canvas was added that conceals his genitals.
8. The Deposition-1547-1553-Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence-Italy
Also called Pietá Bandini, the artist believed that he did not achieve perfection in it and he was dissatisfied with the marble in this work; in a fit of bad temper he caused damage to the arm and leg of Christ who is dead, old and hurt led to the grave by Nicodemus, who performed with his own self-portrait, since initially he considered that the statue would rest on his grave The Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene also integrate the image.
9. Bacchus-1496/1497-Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence-Italy
When Michelangelo was barely twenty years old, he shaped an imbibed Bacchus that surreptitiously contemplates his elixir in a glass that he takes in his right hand and in the other, holds an exotic leopard skin with a large quantity of grapes that, ecstatically, a satyr enjoys. It was built on the command of Cardinal Riario and has the influences of his first visit to Rome so that one can clearly see features of classical sculpture and the exuberance of the time.
10. Rondanini Pietà-1552-1565-Castillo Sforzesco, Milan-Italy
A moribund artist creates the Rondanini Pietá, in this one, a clear break with the classic is present since it can be appreciated focused on trying to reveal the inner beauty as opposed to his first creations. The sculpture was not finished, nevertheless, in contrast with the Pietà in the Vatican and the Pietà in Florence, it shows the expressions of Christ and Maria, of plaintive, weak and afflicted forms, very similar to the feeling that it impeded him in that moment.