Michelangelo di Ludovico Buonarroti Simoni was born on March 6, 1475 in the Tuscan town of Caprese, which is located near Arezzo. His family was native to Florence, his father part of the Florentine government, therefore they returned to the city within a few weeks of his birth.
Florence during the Renaissance period was a vibrant arts center, an opportune locale for Michelangelo’s innate talents to develop and flourish. His mother died when he was 6. Florence seemed to be a perfect city to raise a child with such artistic ambition. Michelangelo began to show an interest in art and drawing by the age of ten, and became an apprentice by age 12. At the young age of 13, Michelangelo was set to be an artist. He persuaded his father to allow him to leave his grammar school and become an apprentice to the artist Domenico Ghirlandaio. Ghirlandaio was known as one of the most successful Florentine Renaissance fresco painters of this time. After about one year of learning the art of fresco, Michelangelo went on to study at the sculpture school in the Medici gardens. There Michelangelo's skill attracted the personal attention of Lorenzo de' Medici, The Magnificent, who was effective ruler of Florence at the time. He was so impressed by a statue that Michelangelo was carving that he invited him to live in the Medici household.
During his stay in the palace, Michelangelo learned from and was inspired by the scholars and writers of Lorenzo’s acquaintances. His later work would forever be influenced by what he learned about philosophy and politics throughout those years. While staying in the Medici home, he refined his technique under the guidance of Bertoldo di Giovanni, keeper of Lorenzo’s collection of ancient Roman sculptures and a sculptor himself. Although Michelangelo expressed his interest in various medias, he would always consider himself a sculptor.
By 1498 Michelangelo was working in Rome. This was when he received a career-making commission, the Cardinal wanted to create a substantial statue depicting a draped Virgin Mary with her dead son resting in her arms to grace his own future tomb. Michelangelo’s delicate 69-inch-tall masterpiece featuring two intricate figures carved from one block of marble still continues to draw legions of visitors to St. Peter’s Basilica more than 500 years after its completion.
In 1501 Michelangelo returned to Florence and was contracted to create a huge male figure, out of marble, to enhance the city’s famous Duomo. He chose to depict the young David from the Old Testament; heroic, energetic, powerful, spiritual, and larger than life at 17 feet tall. The sculpture today still remains in Florence at the Galleria dell’Accademia. He then proceeded to head back to Rome.
In 1505, Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to sculpt him a grand tomb with 40 life-size statues. The pope’s priorities shifted away from the project when he became involved in military disputes and funds became scarce leading him not to pay...