Michelangelo

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Jessica Stephens
Professor Carol Eckert
Art History 210
13 November 2012
An Assortment of
Michelangelo’s oeuvres
Some know of him, some praise him, some confuse him with another. A Renaissance man and an appreciator of the Classical and Hellenistic Greek styles, Michelangelo Buonarroti is the man of his century. Unlike many other artists of his similar day and time, Michelangelo was born into a reasonable state in the community of Caprese in Italy. His father, Lodovico di Lionardo Buonarroti Simoni, documented his birth as the 6th of March 1475, a few hours before dawn (Symonds 5). His father was a sort of “local governor of the small towns of Caprese…” thus giving him a more graced chance at making it somewhere higher in the world. When his father moved his family back to Florence, Michelangelo was “first exposed to stone carving,” and besides that fact, was enrolled in a Latin school. As he continued in this, he found that he was drawn more to art, than to other professions; this realization, of course as it would any, upset his father. But, eventually, his father conceded and put him in an apprenticeship with Ghirlandaio (Wallace 13-14). Ghirlandaio owned a workshop and regularly took boys as apprentices and taught them the basics of art, mixing colors, etc. (Davies). After his apprenticeship was over, he moved in on a notable connection to the Medici family, where he could flourish as a student of art. The Medici family connection was very distant to Michelangelo, but none-the-less; it could be taken to his advantage (Wallace 15). Florence was basically ruled by the Medici family and at this time Lorenzo di Medici was in charge. Michelangelo was only there by Lorenzo’s personal invitation. During the time that the Medici family held power, Florence became the center of the Italian Renaissance because of the cultivation of the arts and sciences in the household of Medici (Luchinat and Strozzi 1). Even after the Medici family was exiled, Michelangelo followed them to their new living place, hoping to find another patron, since Lorenzo had died. Eventually, he moved back to Florence, and became, again, in favor of a Medici family member, who still had a standing with the community because of his political alliance. Through Lorenzo di Pierfancesco de’ Medici (different from the first Lorenzo), Michelangelo was able to present himself to “Cardinal Raffaele Riario, the richest and most powerful man in Rome, second only to the pope” (Wallace 16-17). Through this opportunity he was able to show off his skill set as an able-bodied sculptor, and so he was able to create Bacchus. Ironically, the unfortunate event of the Cardinal not liking the statue opened the correct door for Michelangelo to walk through to his next project. Jacopo Galli came into ownership of Bacchus and gave him the connection to receive a commission for a Pietà for a French cardinal. “And so began Michelangelo’s love affair with the quarries and his preferred manner of beginning every new commission (Wallace 18).” "In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it."—Michelangelo David

David, Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1501-1504, Academia Museum, Florence

David, Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1501-1504, Academia Museum, Florence

So, how did this amazing sculpture come about? As Michelangelo was a learned man because of his time in the Medici household, he most assuredly studied Greek art, thus was influenced by the Classical style of Greece, evidenced by the “hip shift and idealized form” of David (Carol Eckert, “Classical Greece”, UT Martin, Gooch Hall auditorium, September 20, 2012). This opportunity for Michelangelo to complete this piece was just happenstance that the head of the Florentine government asked him to use a piece of 40...
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