Question: March 6th is the anniversary of Michelangelo’s birth. How old would he be if he was still alive today?
Answer: 541 – He was born in Caprese, in the Republic of Florence (modern day Italy) in 1475.
Michelangelo Buonarroti was a true Renaissance man. A skilled sculptor, accomplished painter, talented poet, sought-after architect and ingenious engineer. An all-round polymath. In a tribute to this giant of Western art, in this blog I’d like to tell you more about the man and his works.
Born to a government administrator, Michelangelo was sent to live with a stonemason’s family after his mother’s early death – he was just 6 years old. This experience helped to shape him and he later said that, ‘Along with the milk of my nurse I received the knack of handling chisel and hammer’.
When he was 13 Michelangelo was sent to Florence to be educated, though he spent most of his time practising his painting. Just one year later he was hired by the painter Ghirlandaio as an artist. When he was 15 he honed his craft by spending two years at the de Medici family’s Humanist academy.
The young artist travelled around Italy creating sculptures and paintings for churches, rich families and governments. Then at 22 he began work on the first of his most famous pieces, Pietà, a statue of the Virgin Mary grieving over Christ’s body. Critics of the time hailed it as ‘a perfection that nature is scarcely able to create in the flesh’.
In 1504 Michelangelo completed his most famous statue, David. Now considered his masterpiece, the statue cemented Michelangelo’s place as the foremost sculptor in Italy at the time. Such venerated names as da Vinci and Botticelli were called upon to decide where it should be placed!
Michelangelo was then commissioned by Pope Julius II to construct his tomb. Michelangelo worked on the project for 40 years, carving 11 sculptures (the original design had 40) but funding dried up and the tomb was never to Michelangelo’s liking.
Whilst working on the pope’s tomb, Michelangelo was also commissioned to
paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Probably his most famous painting, the piece depicts several parts of the Bible from the Creation and the Fall of Man, through the Promise of Salvation in the prophets to the Genealogy of Christ.
Michelangelo created many more works than are listed here (for a look at some of them click this link). Not only did he work on sculptures and paintings, he also painted frescos, designed buildings and wrote poetry. Now you’ve learned a little more about him why not test your knowledge in our specialist quiz all about him? It’s one in our series of 30 art quizzes about sculptors, painters, galleries, artistic periods, tools, materials and even quotes! Take a look and enter the world of art!