The saying usually goes, a jack of all trades, but a master of none – although when it comes to Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti he was not only a jack of all trades, but a master of each and everyone. Michelangelo was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and it still holds up. A good number of his works rank among the most famous/influential in history to this day. Michelangelo was born in Caprese Michelangelo, Italy on March 6th 1475, and he is one of the few during the Renaissance Age who completely changed the game for art and how it was viewed among the world. The reason he changed the game for art is due to the he brought realism into art and how he challenged the old way of thinking by showing people that painting the human body was not a sin. This encouraged a lot of different and new thinking for when it came to presenting art. The reason Michelangelo became an artist was due to being influenced by many artists – one artist that comes to mind is Lorenzeo Ghiberti a Florentine artist from the Early 1400s; Ghiberti had designed the metal doors for the Cathedral in Florence which showed scenes from the Old Testament. The first piece of art that really shined from Michelangelo was when he received a commission to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling as a consolation prize of sorts when Pope Julius II temporarily scaled back plans for a massive sculpted memorial to himself that Michelangelo was to complete. Although Michaelangelo was also a painter, architect and poet it was really his marble sculpture that caught my attention to wanting to understand why he made them this way, what emotions he was trying to portray, and all the background knowledge on how that sculpture came to be.
The first marble sculpture that really caught my eye was “Moses”. When I saw it the first thought that came to my mind was “Wow that’s incredibly cool” and just how insane that a person was able to create something so real and all that detail behind it, let alone during that time, but even now it still holds up amazingly. A thing that is different with this sculpture compared to the others was this was made later in his career. You can really see all the refinements with the Moses compared to his earlier work. While that isn’t to say that this is better than the others, I am willing to say that you definitely can see more realism among this one than his older works. The Moses was created during 1513-1515 was described as “Moses is an imposing figure—he is nearly eight feet high sitting down! He has enormous muscular arms and an angry, intense look in his eyes.” The Moses shows his courage and passion at a time when he was fighting to be able to complete the tomb of Pope Julius II. It is true he never completed the Pope’s tomb, but in Moses we can see once again his geniusness at play. He considered it his most important work. The Moses sculpture as I see it, was Michaelangelo being at a total understanding with his talent and abilities, and then being able to put that all together at the age of 38 – his pinnacle.
The next marble sculpture that caught my eye was The Pieta. When I was witnessing pictures of it, I had a different thought than when I was looking at the Moses. The only word I had for it was beautiful. The Pieta was created during 1498-1500. In 1497, a cardinal named Jean de Billheres asked Michelangelo to create a work of sculpture to go into a side chapel at Old St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. That resulted in the Pieta which would have so much succes it brought even greater acknowledgement to Michelangelo career, unlike any past art he had created. When the figure was examined it showed that the proportions were not in natural relation to one another – in short the dimensions were discumbuluated to say. While the heads were proportional it showed that the Virgin’s body was larger than Christ’s. She was so large, that if she would stand up she would tower over her son. A reason that he made it this way was so it was necessary that the Virgin could support her son on her lap; had her body been smaller, it might have been very difficult or awkward for her to have held an adult male as gracefully as she does. Around the time the work was finished, there was a complaint against Michelangelo because of the way he depicted the Virgin. She appears rather young – so young, in fact, that she could scarcely be the mother of a thirty-three-year-old son. Michelangelo’s answer to this criticism was simply that women who are chaste retain their beauty longer, which meant that the Virgin would not have aged like other women usually do. The Pieta can be found in Vatican City.
Finally, the last sculpture that is ranked among his best not even in just marble sculptures, but just art in general – David. This outstanding sculpture was created between 1501 and 1504. Michelangelo accepted the challenge with enthusiasm to sculpt a large scale David and worked constantly for over two years to create one of his most breathtaking masterpieces of not only marble, but art as well. It is a 14.0 ft marble statue depicting the Biblical hero David, represented as a standing male nude. Michelangelo was only 26 years old in 1501, but he was already the most famous and best paid artist in his days.
Another interpretation about these larger details lead scholars to think that Michelangelo intentionally over-proportioned the head to underline the concentration and the right hand to symbolize the pondered action. It is known from archive documents that Michelangelo worked at the statue in utmost secrecy, hiding his masterpiece in the making up until January 1504. In January 1504, his 14 foot tall David was unveiled only to the church: they all agreed that it was far too perfect to be placed up high in the Cathedral, thus it was decided to discuss another location in town. Thanks to its imposing perfection, the biblical figure of David became the symbol of liberty and freedom of the Republican ideals, showing Florence’s readiness to defend itself.
Michelangelo once wrote, “That a true and pure work of sculpture, by definition, one that is cut, not cast or modeled should retain so much of the original form of the stone block and should so avoid projections and separation of parts that it would roll downhill of its own weight.”
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