Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (6 March 1475 - 18 February 1564) was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet of the High Renaissance who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. Considered to be the greatest living artist during his lifetime, he has since been described as one of the greatest artists of all time.Despite making few forays beyond the arts, his versatility in the disciplines he took up was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with his rival and fellow Florentine Medici client, Leonardo da Vinci.
A number of Michelangelo's works of painting, sculpture, and architecture rank among the most famous in existence. His output in every field of interest was prodigious; given the sheer volume of surviving correspondence, sketches, and reminiscences taken into account, he is the best-documented artist of the 16th century.
He sculpted two of his best-known works, the Pietà and David, before the age of thirty. Despite holding a low opinion of painting, Michelangelo also created two of the most influential frescoes in the history of Western art: the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and The Last Judgment on its altar wall. As an architect, Michelangelo arted the Mannerist style at the Laurentian Library. At the age of 74, he succeeded Antonio da Sangallo the Younger as the architect of St. Peter's Basilica. Michelangelo transformed the plan so that the western end was finished to his design, as was the dome, with some modification, after his death.
Michelangelo was unique as the first Western artist whose biography was published while he was alive.In fact, two biographies were published during his lifetime; one of them, by Giorgio Vasari, proposed that he was the pinnacle of all artistic achievement since the beginning of the Renaissance, a viewpoint that continued to have currency in art history for centuries.
In his lifetime he was often called Il Divino ("the divine one"). One of the qualities most admired by his contemporaries was his terribilità, a sense of awe-inspiring grandeur. The attempts by subsequent artists to imitate Michelangelo's impassioned and highly personal style resulted in Mannerism, the next major movement in Western art after the High Renaissance.
The Madonna of the Stairs (1490 - 92), Michelangelo's earliest known work
Michelangelo was born on 6 March 1475[a] in Caprese near Arezzo, Tuscany (known today as Caprese Michelangelo). For several generations, his family had been small-scale bankers in Florence, but the bank failed, and his father, Ludovico di Leonardo Buonarroti Simoni, briefly took a government post in Caprese, where Michelangelo was born. At the time of Michelangelo's birth, his father was the Judicial administrator of the small town of Caprese and local administrator of Chiusi. Michelangelo's mother was Francesca di Neri del Miniato di Siena. The Buonarrotis claimed to descend from the Countess Mathilde of Canossa; this claim remains unproven, but Michelangelo himself believed it. Several months after Michelangelo's birth, the family returned to Florence, where he was raised. At later times, during his mother's prolonged illness and after her death in 1481, when he was just six years old, Michelangelo lived with a nanny and her husband, who was a stonecutter, in the town of Settignano, where his father owned a marble quarry and a small farm. There Michelangelo gained his love for marble, as Giorgio Vasari quotes him:
"If there is some good in me, it is because I was born in the subtle atmosphere of your country of Arezzo. Along with the milk of my nurse I received the knack of handling chisel and hammer, with which I make my figures."
Apprenticeships, 1488 - 92
As a young boy, Michelangelo was sent to Florence to study grammar under the Humanist Francesco da Urbino. The young artist, however, showed no interest in his schooling, preferring to copy paintings from churches and seek the company of painters.
The city of Florence was at that time the greatest centre of the arts and learning in Italy. Art was sponsored by the Signoria (the town council), by the merchant guilds and by wealthy patrons such as the Medici and their banking associates. The Renaissance, a renewal of Classical scholarship and the arts, had its first flowering in Florence.In the early 15th century, the architect Filippo Brunelleschi had studied the remains of Classical buildings in Rome and created two churches, San Lorenzo's and Santo Spirito, which embodied the Classical arts. The sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti had laboured for fifty years to create the bronze doors of the Baptistry, which Michelangelo was to describe as "The Gates of Paradise". The exterior niches of the Church of Orsanmichele contained a gallery of works by the most acclaimed sculptors of Florence - Donatello, Ghiberti, Andrea del Verrocchio, and Nanni di Banco.The interiors of the older churches were covered with frescos (mostly in Late Medieval, but also in the Early Renaissance style), begun by Giotto and continued by Masaccio in the Brancacci Chapel - both of whose works Michelangelo studied and copied in drawings. During Michelangelo's childhood, a team of painters had been called from Florence to the Vatican, in order to decorate the walls of the Sistine Chapel. Among them was Domenico Ghirlandaio, a master in fresco painting, perspective, figure drawing, and portraiture who had the largest workshop in Florence at that period.
In 1488, at the age of 13, Michelangelo was apprenticed to Ghirlandaio. The next year, his father persuaded Ghirlandaio to pay Michelangelo as an artist, which was rare for someone of fourteen. When in 1489, Lorenzo de' Medici, de facto ruler of Florence, asked Ghirlandaio for his two best pupils, Ghirlandaio sent Michelangelo and Francesco Granacci. From 1490 to 1492, Michelangelo attended the Humanist academy that the Medici had founded along Neo-Platonic lines. At the academy, both Michelangelo's outlook and his art were subject to the influence of many of the most prominent philosophers and writers of the day, including Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola and Poliziano. At this time, Michelangelo sculpted the reliefs Madonna of the Steps (1490–1492) and Battle of the Centaurs (1491–1492). The latter was based on a theme suggested by Poliziano and was commissioned by Lorenzo de Medici.Michelangelo worked for a time with the sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni. When he was seventeen, another pupil, Pietro Torrigiano, struck him on the nose, causing the disfigurement that is conspicuous in all the portraits of Michelangelo.