Leonardo vs. Michelangelo

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Leonardo versus Michelangelo
Violet Jane Greeley
Art Appreciation ART 101
Carrie Ann Wills
November 13, 2012

Da Vinci versus Michelangelo

Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simone shared many similarities. Both were painters, sculptors, and poets. They both had a tendency to leave their works incomplete. Both artists quickly surpassed the talents of their instructors and achieved fame with ease. In addition, both artists were known to have studied anatomy by dissecting human cadavers [ (Bambach, 2002) ]. Together they make up two thirds of the Renaissance’s three greatest artistic minds of all times, the other being Raphael. In this paper, I will first give a brief biography of each artist, then compare and contrast three works of art by Leonardo with three works of art by Michelangelo, followed by a discussion on how each artist made their own personal influence on the world of art in Italy and Europe during the 16th century, and provide supporting examples.

Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452 and passed away on May 1, 1519 [ (Helicon, 2005) ]. Leonardo’s first painting and sculpting instructor was Andrea del Verrocchio, with whom he was apprenticed to and even surpassed in skill [ (Vasari, 2006) ]. During his apprenticeship to Verrocchio, Leonardo excelled at many skills including painting, sculpting, architecture, engineering, and mathematics [ (Vasari, 2006) ]. Still further, he studied subjects such as botany, geology, geography, zoology, anatomy, hydraulics and mechanics [ (Kleiner, 2010) ].

Michelangelo was born on March 6, 1475 and passed away on February 18, 1565 [ (Jacobs, 1968) ]. When Michelangelo was fourteen years old, he was apprenticed to Domenico Ghirlandajo in April, 1488 [ (Vasari, 2006) ] [ (Gombrich, 1995) ]. Before long, Michelangelo excelled in his artistic ability, surpassed his fellow apprentices, and at times even rivaled his master’s abilities [ (Vasari, 2006) ]. Additionally, he achieved exemplary skills in architecture, poetry, and engineering, but was most fond of sculpting above all else [ (Kleiner, 2010) ]. Although Michelangelo wasn’t apparently influenced by Ghirlandajo in artistic methods or styles, his attitude and behavior reflected that of his master more prominently by his frequent displays of vigorous work ethics and an impatient temperament [ (Gombrich, 1995) ]. While under the tutelage of Ghirlandajo, Michelangelo carefully analyzed old and new artists and their techniques. These included but weren’t limited to Giotto, Masaccio, Donatello, Ghiberti, Benedetto da Majano, Mino da Fiesole, Antonio Rossellino and Jacopo della Quercia Rolland [ (Rolland, 1921) ]. Florentines whose influence can be seen in Michelangelo’s works are Giotto and Masaccio [ (Kleiner, 2010) ]. A year after his apprenticeship to Ghirlandajo, he was also introduced to Bertoldo di Giovanni (who was himself once a student of Donatello) through Lorenzo the Magnificent, and was instructed on the art of sculpture in the Garden of Medici as well as being influenced by Lorenzo de Medici [ (Kleiner, 2010) ] [ (Rolland, 1921) ]. His original intent in joining with Giovanni was to gain experience with the tradition of Donatello and to enhance his knowledge of antiquities, but the most precious asset Michelangelo acquired from Giovanni was access to and the friendship of the Medici family [ (Rolland, 1921) ]. From 1492 to 1494, Michelangelo obtained an extraordinary opportunity to study anatomy in the hospital which was adjoined to San Spirito [ (Nickerson, 2008) ]. Vasari stressed the importance of studying antique forms and the significance of such in the work of all of the most highly regarded master artists in the High Renaissance era [ (Johnson, 2000) ]. Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo were no exceptions to this rule, and Michelangelo especially applied himself in that aspect [ (Johnson, 2000) ].

Leonardo was a major contributor...
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