Michelangelo Buonarroti was born in 1475. He was born in a small town
called Caprese, in Tuscany, Italy. Michelangelo was one of the most famous
artists of the Italian Renaissance. According to Charles de Tolnay
Michelangelo's three greatest works of his later life, were the Tomb of Pope
Julius II, the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and the Medici Chapel(37).
Michelangelo's specialty was painting the human body unclothed. In
order to learn to paint the human body so well he would dissect human corpses.
His artistic talents were noticed at a very early age. Michelangelo went to
study with Domenico Ghirlandago, who taught him about painting. He then went on
to work with Donatello to learn about sculpture. Between the years of 1490-1492
Michelangelo lived in the house of Lorenzo de' Medici and was influenced by
Neoplatonic thought. Some of Michelangelo's early painting showed the influence
of Giotto and Masaccio. Also many of his early sculptures show the influence of
Donatello (Columbia University Press) .
Michelangelo's artistic career can be divided into two periods. In the
early period he focused on realism. During this early period Michelangelo's
works included the “Pieta” and the “David.” At the age of 24 he completed a
statue called the “Pieta,” showing the dead Jesus Christ in his mother's arms.
In 1501 Michelangelo returned to Florence, Italy to sculpt the famous nude
sculpture called the “David.” The “David” measures 18 feet tall, and is so
massive that it took 40 men to move it from Michelangelo's workshop(World Book
The second period of Michelangelo's career was based upon his
imagination. In 1505 Michelangelo was summoned by Pope Julius II to fabricate
his tomb. Michelangelo was so excited about making the tomb for the Pope that
he spent many months looking for the perfect piece of marble to make the tomb.
A short time after starting the tomb Pope Julius II selected Michelangelo to
decorate the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
The Sistine Chapel is in the palace of The Vatican in Rome. The Sistine
Chapel was built by Pope Sixtus IV in 1473. The Sistine Chapel ceiling took
over four years to complete, 1508-1512. Michelangelo was able to accomplish
this enormous job in such a short amount of time because of his desire to finish
the tomb(Janson 359).
The walls of the Sistine Chapel were painted twenty five years prior to
the painting of the ceiling. One of the walls in the chapel told the story of
Moses, and the other wall told the story of Jesus Christ. Michelangelo used the
subjects of the paintings on the walls to determine the subject of his frescos,”
...there remained only one subject he could use to complete the two preceding
ones, that is the story of humanity...”(Tolnay 41).
The ceiling is made up of scenes...