1.Birth and Early Life
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was born in Caprese, Italy on 6th March, 1495. His father was an employee of the Florentine government. His family went back to Florence shortly after Michelangelo’s birth, a place where he always considered his true home. His mother passed on when he was only 6 and his father didn’t approve of Michalangelo’s interest in art initially.
2.An Art Apprentice at 13
During the Renaissance period, Florence was a vibrant art center that created a local opportunity for the development and flourishing of Michelangelo’s innate artistic talents. At the age of 13, he became an apprentice of Domenico Ghirlandaio who is famous for his murals. One year later, Michelangelo’s talent caught the attention of a leading art patron and citizen in Florence, Lorenzo de’ Medici. Lorenzo liked intellectual stimulation brought by the city’s most poetic, literate and talented men. He invited Michelangelo to live in his palatial home.
3.Inspired by Writers and Scholars
During his stay at Lorenzo de’ Medici’s home, Michelangelo was inspired by the writers and scholars in Lorenzo’s circle. His later works were informed by the lessons he got about politics and philosophy. His stay at Lorenzo’s home also helped him refine his technique under Bertoldo di Giovanni’s tutelage, a noted sculptor who kept Lorenzo’s ancient Roman sculptures collection.
4.Commissioned by a French Cardinal to create a Pieta
While working on Rome in 1498, Michelangelo got a career making assignment from Jean Bilhères de Lagraulas, a French cardinal and envoy of King Charles VIII. He was asked to sculpt a huge statue of a draped Virgin Mary holding her dead son in her arms, known as a Pieta for his future tomb. Michelangelo created a 69 inch tall masterpiece with 2 intricate figures cut from a single marble block that stands at St. Peter’s Basilica and continues to attract visitors over 500 years since it was completed.
5.Sculpture of David
In 1501, Michelangelo was asked to create a big male figure for enhancing the city of Florence famous Duomo, officially the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral. He opted to depict David, from the Bible’s Old Testament as energetic, heroic, spiritual and powerful 17-feet tall. Scholars consider this sculpture as near perfect technically. It is a symbol of Florence city and its art heritage.
6.Painted the Sistine Chapel Ceiling
Michelangelo spent 4 years painting the 12 figures, 7 prophets and 5 sibyls on the ceiling border of the Sistine Chapel. He then painted scenes from Genesis at the center space of the ceiling. Critics say that Michelangelo’s depiction of prophet Ezekiel is a reflection of his sensitivity to intrinsic complexity of human condition.
7.Most Popular Painting on Sistine Chapel
The most popular painting that Michelangelo did on the Sistine Chapel ceiling is the one reflecting emotion infused Creation of Adam. The painting shows God and Adam outstretching hands to each other.
8.The Sistine Chapel Painting was not the original idea
Originally, Pope Julius II, who commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling in 1508 had wanted him to sculpt a grand tomb featuring 40 life-size statues. Michelangelo had begun the project in 1505 but the pope shifted priorities from the project when he got engaged in military disputes and funds got scarce. Pope Julius then asked Michelangelo to do a less costly assignment in Rome that involved depicting the twelve apostles on the Sistine Chapel ceiling, which is Vatican’s most sacred area as new popes are elected then inaugurated here.
9.A Sculptor first, then a Painter
Michelangelo always considered himself a sculptor first then a painter. He continued sculpting and painting until he died. However, as he aged, he increasingly took up architectural projects. He was also a writer and poet.
Michelangelo remained unmarried and childless until his death after a short illness in 1564 aged 88. He survived past the life expectancy during his era.