Michelangelo, an Italian Painter

OV Digital Desk
5 Min Read

Michelangelo (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564) was an Italian Painter, Poet, and sculptor of High Renaissance.

Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo are all considered as the three giants of the Renaissance.

Early Life

Michelangelo was born on 6 March 1475, Tuscany, Italy. His father Ludovico di Leonardo Buonarroti Simoni, was a magistrate and a local administrator in Chiusi della Verna. His family moved to Florence several months after he was born. After the death of his mother, in 1481. He lived and grew up with his nanny in Settignano, where his father owned a marble quarry and a small farm.

Becoming an artist was a downhill social step, so He decided to become an apprentice relatively late, at 13, perhaps after overcoming his father’s opposition. The city’s most famous painter, Domenico Ghirlandaio, apprenticed him for three years, but he left after a year because there was nothing more to learn.

It’s pretty common for apprentices to copy the figures of earlier great painters, like Ghirlandaio and Giotto, but few examples exist. Lorenzo de’ Medici, aka ‘the Magnificent’, took him under his wing as a talented young man. It was Lorenzo who surrounded himself with poets and intellectuals, so Michelangelo was there too. In addition, he had access to the Medici Art collection, which was dominated by ancient Roman objects.

In 1492, after the death of Lorenzo de’ Medici, Michelangelo returned to Florence. Florentine artists were thought to be the best in Europe at this time, the competition among them was stimulating. But the city couldn’t offer as many commissions; leading Florentine artists, like Leonardo da Vinci and his teacher Andrea Del Verrocchio, left for better jobs elsewhere. As the political upheaval raged in Florence, Michelangelo left and followed his patrons to Venice before moving to Bologna.

His sculpting career continued in Bologna. A candlestick angel and two saints, Petronius and Proculus, he carved for the Shrine of St. Dominic. Michelangelo was heavily inspired and influenced by classical antiquities, and he also tried to pass off one of his sculptures as an antique. In order to sell it in Rome, he was told to make it look like it’d been dug up by Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de Medici. The Cardinal, who bought the piece, realized it was fake, but he was still so blown away by the artwork that he invited him to Rome.

At the age of 21 he moved to Rome. Michelangelo sculpted Pieta when he was in his early twenties, a picture of the Virgin Mary weeping over Jesus’ body in St. Peters in the Vatican. He picked out the marble for this piece himself from the marble quarry. He was said to be able to visualize the finished sculpture from just seeing a block of stone.

In 1504, he completed the most famous sculpture of all time, back in Florence. A symbol of Florentine freedom, David is shown deciding to fight Goliath. It was decided on its placement, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, by a committee that included Leonardo da Vinci and Sandro Botticelli.

While in Florence, Michelangelo accepted lots of commissions, sculptures and paintings, all of which he didn’t finish before he went back to Rome, in 1505, to work on a Tomb for Pope Julius II. Also, during this time, Michelangelo finished some of his most famous work, like the frescoes on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, which took him four years to finish.

Michelangelo worked on the basilica continuously for the rest of his life. He worked on the dome at the east end of the basilica, which was his biggest contribution. Achieving a large dome comparable to Brunelleschi’s famous dome in Florence, he combined the ideas of other architects who had contributed to the project with his own grand ideas. He didn’t finish the dome until after he died, but the dome’s base had been constructed, so the design could not be changed much. A testament to his genius and devotion, it’s still the biggest church in the world. While he continued to sculpt, it was more for fun than for work. In the weeks before he died, he was working on the Rondanini Pietà, his last work. He also completed the Disposition.


He died on 18 February 1564 Italy.

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