All the Michelangelos in Rome
Paintings, frescoes, and sculptures in Rome by the greatest of all Renaissance masters, Michelangelo Buonarotti
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Michelangelo Buonarotti, a bust by Daniele da Volterra in Florence's Bargello Museum.Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475–1564), born to an exceedingly minor Tuscan noble and nursemaided by stonecutter's wife in the hills near Florence, was being acclaimed as the greatest artist of his age while still a teenager.
Supremely talented, divinely inspired, both a great craftsman and insightful innovator, seemingly able to master effortlessly any artistic pursuit he attempted, he would become the High Renaissance's greatest painter and sculptor, and renowned architect, and trusted military engineer.
He also wrote excellent poetry.
Michelangelo's fresco palette broke from the staid tradition of primaries-plus-gold and plunged painting into a festive new world of vibrant color, from secondaries to pastels. His figures—carved or painted—twisted and turned and carried their weight believably. Every face he created had a character behind it.
His proportions were mathematically precise and his creations exactingly naturalistic... except where they weren't. Michelangelo knew how to distort or exaggerate the rules to achieve an even greater artistic effect (when you're in Florence, study The David's hands and head; they're all outrageously oversized, yet somehow they look right).
Michelangelo was also temperamental, whiney, sycophantic without loyalty, and all around a bit of a jerk. On the Sistine Chapel ceiling job, he was utterly dissatisfied with his assistants and ended up firing all of of them save one he kept on to help grind pigments (and, possibly, to help warm his bed at night—and I don't mean just for the body heat. Though Michelangelo maintained a deep and spirited friendship with a woman later in life, that relationship was by all accounts utterly platonic and Michelangelo was, according to the innuendo at the time, gay).
Michelangelo's report card would definitely read "Does not play well with others." These character faults were unfortunately indulged or endured by those around him because he was so superhumanly good at what he did.
He was the first artist to be treated like a rock star rather than a common laborer or simple craftsman, and might well be counted as the art world's first true prima donna and enfant terrible.
We forgive him, too, because: hey, we all have faults. We're all human.
Michelangelo just also happened to be, quite simply, the greatest artist who ever lived.
Michelangelo's works in RomeSights By Category
• Top Sights
• Ancient sites / ruins
• Piazze & fountains
• Reid's list
• Free sights
• Michelangelo's Rome
• Bernini's Rome
• Caravaggio's Rome
- St. Peter's (the dome, the Pietà)
- Vatican Museums (the Sistine Chapel: both the famous ceiling and Last Judgment)
- Santa Maria Sopra Minerva (Risen Christ)
- San Pietro in Vincoli (Moses)
- Santa Maria degli Angeli (the architecture)
- Campidoglio / Capitoline Hill (the architecture)
A Michelangelo tour in Rome
The Vatican palaces and St. Peter's were a true "factory" of Renaissance art. In the Vatican the two most notable artists of the period, Raphael and Michelangelo, shared the same experience and compared their conception of art. The sweet natured and charmingly polite Raphael worked next door to the gloomy, laconic and self-absorbed Michelangelo. Both men carried out some of the most significant art works of all times: the frescoes in the private apartment of Pope Julius II, decorated by Raphael between 1508 and 1520; those on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, achieved by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, and the Last Judgment...
- A Bernini tour of Rome
- A Caravaggio tour of Rome
- Guided art walks in Rome
- Churches in Rome
- Museums and art galleries in Rome
- A Michelangelo tour of Florence
This material was last updated April 2013. All information was accurate at the time.
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