Michelangelo

Introduction

Michelangelo was born in Caprese, Arezzo, on 6 March 1475. He was an Italian painter, sculptor, poet, architect, and one of the major influences on the development of Western Art. While Michelangelo rarely made forays beyond arts, his brief dabbling in other disciplines produced such unparalleled work that he was compared with Leonardo da Vinci as an archetypical Renaissance man.

His works

Michelangelo was considered one of the best artists of his time and, posthumously, one of the best artists of all times. His works in sculpture, painting and architecture are regarded as some of the most famous in his existence. His best-known works are the sculptures of Pietà and David. While he had a low opinion of paintings, he also created beautiful frescoes, the most famous of which are the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome and the painting of The Last Judgment on the altar’s walls. He also pioneered the Mannerist style of architecture, producing the Laurentian Library.

Michelangelo also succeeded as an architect of Saint Peter’s Basilica, transforming components of the plan and finishing the dome. He was one of the rare individuals who had two biographies published about him during his lifetime, and was nicknamed Il Divino or “the Divine One”. Michelangelo’s most admired quality was terribilita, his ability to inspire breathtaking grandeur through his work, an attribute that is imitated to this day.

Michelangelo, in his old age, created a number of variations of Pieta, reflecting mortality. Some variations include Victory, where a youth overcomes an older figure who has the features of Michelangelo. However, his last sculpture, Rondanini Pieta, was never completed. The figure’s legs and detached right arm are to be found, but the sculpture retains an abstract quality that is in line with 20th century concepts.

His influence

Michelangelo’s most famous piece is David, but his other, lesser-known works have a greater influence on subsequent historical and modern artists. The tension and the twisting form of his works, such as Victory and Madonna, are special features of the Mannerist school. The architecture of St. Peter’s Basilica influenced later churches, including St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and Sant’Andrea in Rome. He influenced famous artists such as Rodin, Raphael and Henry Moore and, through his writings, also influenced artists like Pontormo, who drew on The Last Judgment as a source of inspiration.

Michelangelo could be considered as a true Renaissance man whose influence is still felt throughout the times in architecture, paintings, sculpture and writing.

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