While the best-known painting by Michelangelo is The Creation of Adam, the painter was a true Renaissance genius, achieving great prominence in a number of fields.
A Short History of the life of Michelangelo
Not only a painter, but the great Michelangelo Buonarroti was also an architect, sculptor and poet, being considered to be one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance. His works rank among the most famous, with artist Raphael becoming Michelangelo’s greatest artistic adversary.
His Rise to Prominence
The famous painter was born in the small village of Caprese, near Arezzo, in Tuscany. When the family first moved to Bologna, he received a commission to finish the carving of the Tomb of St. Dominic. Later he returned to Florence in 1494, working on two statues – St. John the Baptist, and The Cupid, which was sold to Cardinal Riario of San Giorgio.
A Man of Many Talents
Michelangelo was also renowned for his sculptures, accepting the commission to work on the Sistine Chapel. It was a difficult task, more so because he had got rid of all his assistants, save just one, who helped him mix paint. Perhaps it is this amazing work that sky-rocketed the tempestuous painter to the highest fame he would know – showing what an ultimate genius he was – showing stories from the Old Testament such as the Creation of the world.
A 20-Year Job
in 1513 Michelangelo was commissioned to work on the facade of the Basilica San Lorenzo by the new Pope Leo X. He spend 3 years on it and was then commissioned for a Medici chapel in the Basilica of San Lorenzo. He worked on this for the next 20 years.
His most important work was on the dome in the eastern end of the Basilica, combining design ideas of all the architects who had given him advice and tips.
Such Talent Requires being Documented
An interesting aspect of the famous artist’s fame is that his illustrious career was more documented than any other artist of that time and earlier. His biography was published while he was still alive, one being the final chapter in the series of artists’ lives by architect and painter Giorgio Vasari. In fact, Vasari’s writings are the most sought after on ideas on Michelangelo as well as other Renaissance artists. The sheer fame of Michelangelo has meant hundreds of letters, poems and sketches being preserved.
A Long, Fulfilling Career
Although he always thought of himself as a Florentine, Michelangelo lived most of his life in Rome. He started his artist career as a young boy, continuing to work until his death at 88 years of age.
He died at home in Rome in 1564 after a short illness and his body was taken back to Florence where it was interred at the Basilica di Santa Croce.
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