Great Italian Artists
Michelangelo was born in the Tuscan village of Caprese on 6th. March, 1475. He was the second of five sons. His mother was Francesca. His father, Ludovico, was the magistrate of the village and the family considered themselves to be upper-class. The house where he was born and lived for the first months of his life is known as Il Palazzo della Podestà (The Magistrate's Residence.) Below is a photo of that house.
A few months after Michelangelo's birth, the family moved to Florence and for much of the time a nurse looked after the young Michelangelo at her house. The nurse was the wife of a stonemason. It is probable that this early contact with stone and marble influenced his love of sculpture.
When Michelangelo was six years old, his mother died - leaving her husband with a large family to look after.
At first, Michelangelo's father did not really encourage his son's artistic talent. In the 15th Century, artists were considered working-class. Nevertheless, at the age of thirteen, Michelangelo became the apprentice of painter Domenico Ghirlandaio. This apprenticeship lasted for a year.
In Florence at that time, the city was ruled by the Medici Family. Lorenzo de' Medici (known in Italian as Lorenzo il Magnifico) was a great lover of art and he kept classical Greek and Roman statues in his garden. He invited Michelangelo to visit the garden of the Medici home on a regular basis. It was here that Michelangelo received tuition from the sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni.
Michelangelo created wonderful paintings and sculptures. His two most famous statues are 'David' and 'La Pietà.' (Below.)
His most famous paintings are on the altar wall and ceiling inside the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican in Rome. The Sistine Chapel is named after Pope Sisto IV (picture below) who arranged for various artists to paint the chapel walls between 1481 and 1483. The method of painting on a wall is called 'fresco' - meaning 'fresh' because the paint is applied to fresh plaster whilst it is still wet on the wall. In Italian it is called 'affresco.'
However, it was in 1508, at the request of Pope Julius II, that Michelangelo contributed to the painting of the chapel by painting its ceiling. Below is a picture of Pope Julius II.
In 1512, the painted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was complete and was revealed for the first time. (Below.)
Most of the ceiling depicts stories from the Old Testament of The Bible. One of the most famous parts of the ceiling is called 'The Creation of Adam', (below.) In Italian it is called La Creazione di Adamo.
The ceiling is 20 metres high above the floor. Michelangelo constructed a scaffold to reach it and it is known that he worked in a very uncomfortable position with his head looking upwards. In fact, Michelangelo was also a poet and he wrote an amusing poem about the discomfort in painting the ceiling -
Here like a cat in a Lombardy sewer! Swelter and toil!
Between 1536 and 1541, Michelangelo painted the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel. This painting is known as 'The Last Judgement.' In Italian it is called 'Il Giudizio Universale.'
An interesting note:- Michelangelo was left-handed!
Grazie Michelangelo! Thank you, Michelangelo, for spending your life creating so much wonderful art for us to enjoy!