Birthday: March 6, 1475
Died At Age: 88
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni
Born Country: Italy
Born in: Caprese Michelangelo, Italy
Famous as: Sculptor
Quotes By Michelangelo
father: Ludovico di Leonardo di Buonarotto Simoni
mother: Francesca di Neri del Miniato di Siena
siblings: Buonarroto Buonarroti Simoni, Giovan Simone Buonarroti Simoni, Gismondo Buonarroti Simoni, Leonardo Buonarroti Simoni
Died on: February 18, 1564
place of death: Rome
Diseases & Disabilities: Depression
Founder/Co-Founder: Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze
Who was Michelangelo?
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, popularly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet. He is considered to be one of the greatest artists of the High Renaissance period. Born in Florence, he lived with a family of stonecutters from the age of six after the death of his mother. Michelangelo never paid attention in school and instead expressed interest in painting. He later became an apprentice under a painter before studying in the sculpture gardens of the powerful Medici family. Thereafter, he started focusing on his work, establishing a remarkable career as a painter and sculptor in the Italian Renaissance. Two of his most significant initial works that helped him achieve fame were the statues of ‘Pieta’ and 'David’ which were recognized for their artistic technique. Subsequently, he was commissioned by Pope Julius II to design his tomb, a project on which he worked for four decades. Meanwhile, after receiving much appreciation for his works as a sculptor, he was commissioned to design the ceiling of Rome's Sistine Chapel, a project which fueled his imagination to produce one of the most influential works in the history of Western Art. Some of his other major works include the design of ‘Medici Chapel’ and ‘Laurentian Library.’ His painting of ‘The Last Judgment’ on the altar wall of Sistine Chapel is considered a masterpiece. Michelangelo was the greatest artist of his time and his name has become synonymous with the best of the Italian Renaissance.
Childhood & Early Life
Michelangelo was born Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni on March 6, 1475, in Caprese, Republic of Florence, to Ludovico di Leonardo di Buonarrota Simoni, a magistrate, and his wife Francesca Neri. Michelangelo was the second of five sons in the family.
Due to his mother's prolonged illness and subsequent death, he was placed under the care of a family of stonecutters at the age of six. He had little interest in academics and enjoyed drawing. He was later introduced to painter Domenico Ghirlandaio.
At the age of 13, he became an apprentice at Ghirlandaio’s workshop where he was exposed to the technique of fresco. After a year at the workshop, Ghirlandaio recommended him to the palace of the Florentine ruler, Lorenzo the Magnificent, where he studied classical sculpture in the Medici gardens.
From 1489 to 1492, he spent time with the Medici family. During this time, he met the social elite of the city, including prominent poets and scholars. During this period, he also sculpted the reliefs ‘Madonna of the Steps’ (1490–1492) and ‘Battle of the Centaurs’ (1491–1492).
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In 1492, after the death of Lorenzo, the Medici family fell from power. This forced Michelangelo to move to Bologna where he continued his studies. In 1494, he carved three saints for the church of San Domenico.
In 1495, he returned to Florence and began his work as a sculptor. During this period, he worked on two small statues, ‘St. John the Baptist’ and a sleeping Cupid.
Impressed by the quality of his design, Cardinal Raffaele Riario invited him to Rome and asked him to work on a statue of the Roman wine god ‘Bacchus.’
In 1497, he was commissioned by Cardinal Jean de Bilhères-Lagraulas to work on ‘Pieta,’ a sculpture showing Virgin Mary grieving over the body of Jesus. The sculpture is currently located at ‘St. Peter’s Basilica’ in Vatican City.
In 1499, he returned to Florence, but this time as a star artist. He was recognized as the most talented sculptor of Italy and was commissioned to carve a statue of ‘David.’ He turned a huge piece of marble into an impressive figure. The statue was placed on the gable of ‘Florence Cathedral.’
In early 1505, he was called back to Rome by Pope Julius II to design his tomb which included about 40 life-sized statues. He worked on the project for the next 40 years, facing constant interruptions as he had to accomplish other tasks.
In 1508, Julius commissioned him to decorate the ceiling of Sistine Chapel, a project which took about four years to complete. After the ceiling was completed in 1512, Michelangelo continued to work on the tomb of Julius II for the next several years.
During this time, he also designed the Medici Chapel in Florence and the historical Laurentian Library at ‘San Lorenzo's Church,’ Florence. In 1534, he settled in Rome and later met Vittoria Colonna who became the subject of many of his poems and sonnets.
In 1534, he was commissioned to paint a fresco of ‘The Last Judgement’ on the altar wall of Sistine Chapel, a project which he completed in 1541.
In 1546, he was appointed the chief architect of ‘St. Peter’s Basilica,’ Rome. He devoted himself entirely to architecture and poetry during his later years.
At the age of 25, he carved ‘Pieta,’ a sculpture in which Mary supports the dead Christ across her knees. Created from a single piece of Carrara marble, the fluidity of its fabric and the positions of the subjects were awe-inspiring for the early spectators. It remains one of his most admired works.
His most ambitious project was the design of Sistine Chapel’s ceiling which contains over 300 figures. Although the original plan was to paint 12 apostles, he proposed a more complex scheme. His work incorporated Christian symbology and prophecy.
Personal Life & Legacy
He died after a brief illness on February 18, 1564, at his home in Rome. He was 88 years old at the time of his death. As per his wish, his mortal remains were buried in Florence.