Michelangelo, Carnegie Museums, Pittsburgh
Born Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simon in 1475 to a banker and his wife in Caprese, a town near Tuscany. Michelangelo moved to Florence where he resided with a stonecutter, his wife and family. His father owned a marble stone quarry here. His father sent him to school but he much preferred the company of artists and frequently copied paintings he found in local churches. He was subsequently apprenticed to the artist Domenico Ghirlandaio at the age of 14. The artist paid Michelangelo’s father in order to have the young master as an apprentice, which was a rarity. He attended the Humanist academy where he studied sculpture and created Madonna of the Steps and Battle of the Centaurs while there. He studied anatomy at the church of Santo Spirito and sculpted a crucifix as a gift for allowing him the experience.
Michelangelo was commissioned to finish the statue of David, as it had been started 40 years prior. The statue was meant to be a symbol of Florentine freedom. Upon completion, scholars, artists of the period and officials were more than impressed with his work. The famous depiction of the Madonna holding the body of the crucified Christ draped over her lap, the Pieta, was also sculptured before Michelangelo was 30. Artist’s attempts to immitate his highly passionate and personal work led to a subsequent major movement in Western art known as Mannerism.
He completed many works during his life as paintings, sculptures and architecture. He painted the Sistine Chapel and designed the Laurentian Library and St. Peter’s Basilica. He was the first western artist to have a biography written about him while he was still alive. Michelangelo is the best documented Western artist as volumes of his correspondence, sketches and reminiscences have been found.
Michelangelo loved sculpting foremost of all the arts he had learned. He felt there was a statue hiding in every block of stone just waiting to be revealed. The sculpture merely had to chip away the stone until it was uncovered. He lived in squander though he had wealth. He was thought to be rough and crude in nature though he was also called II Divino, the Divine one.