Miguel Ángel Buonarroti Biography
Michelangelo Buonarroti was an Italian painter, sculptor, and architect. He was born in Caprese, on March 6, 1475, in the bosom of an aristocratic family. Miguel Ángel’s mother died when he was only six years old. At that time, he met Francesco Granacci, who encouraged him to paint, even though his father did not approve of that profession.
At thirteen years of age, after overcoming the dissatisfaction of his father, he enters the workshop of Doménico Ghirlandaio where he learns painting and drawing. In 1489, after a short time in the “Bottega” the studio of Ghirlandaio, Lorenzo de Médicis opens the doors of his palace. Miguel Ángel accepts the proposal because he was attracted to sculpture. There, he acquires a deep humanistic formation alongside such outstanding members as Marsilio Ficino and Pico Della Mirandola.
The life of Michelangelo passed between Florence and Rome, cities that preserve their masterpieces. In 1492, after the death of his patron Lorenzo de Médicis, he undertook a trip through Venice and Bologna where he studied the works of Jacobo Della Quercia in the church of San Petronio. Returning to Florence, in 1495, he carved The Descent and The Virgin of Manchester. From his youth he felt a great admiration for anatomy, so he went at night to the municipal deposit of corpses to practice dissections in order to understand better the internal structure of the human body. He traveled to Rome for the first time in July 1496 and, once there, he made: Baco Ebrio, El Cupido Durmiente, and La Piedad. Three of his sculptures that have the greatest recognition worldwide nowadays.
“Genius is eternal patience.” Michelangelo
In 1501, he returned to Florence where he sculpted the David, which represents perfect beauty and sums up the values of Renaissance humanism. In the year 1505, Pope Julius II called him to Rome to carve his mausoleum. He worked on this until 1545 and only managed to finish two sculptures, Moses, and two Slaves. Julius II also asked him to decorate the Sistine Chapel, a work he did between 1508 and 1512 and which can be considered his most sublime creation.
In 1516, he returned to Florence as Pope Leo X commissioned him to decorate the facade of San Lorenzo, a work that remained incomplete. However, while there, he created the plans of the Laurentian Library and the Medicean Chapel or New Sacristy, which housed the tombs of Giuliano and Lorenzo de ‘Medici, for which he chiseled the statues of La Aurora and the Twilight and The Night and the day.
In 1534, Michelangelo settled down definitively in Rome, where he made The Final Judgment, in the Sistine Chapel, and supervised the works of St. Peter’s Basilica, essentially modifying his plans, and outlined the dome as his work. He also designed the Capitol Stairway and the Palace of the Conservatives.
The fame of Michelangelo reached the highest point in the last years of his life, after being appointed the head of the Academy of Drawing in Florence. Michelangelo was known by a skill called terribilitá, which denotes aspects such as physical rigor, emotional intensity and the creative enthusiasm present in his works.
Miguel Ángel is usually recognized as the greatest figure of the Italian Renaissance. He is defined as the master of the sublime, of the grandiose effects. Qualities that cover his work from beginning to end and that prevailed decisively in the artistic currents of the sixteenth century, both for his classicism and his complexity.
His career lasted about seventy years, and during this time he cultivated painting, sculpture, and architecture, obtaining exceptional results in each of these artistic aspects. His colleagues saw in Michelangelo’s work an “essence” to which the greatness of his genius is attributed, persistent in all his works, which gave them his greatness and his unique personal stamp.
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our goal is too high and we do not reach it, but that it is too low and we get it.” Miguel Ángel
Without the presence of this genius, humanity would have been deprived of the sublime forms of the baroque. In Michelangelo’s work, the desire for immortality is expressed for an immanent reason: it is beautiful. This statement acquires its full meaning by admiring the Sistine Chapel, the figure of Moses or the slenderness of David. Miguel Ángel practiced art as a vow: he deprived himself of earthly pleasures and dedicated himself completely to his art.
Although the recognition of their peers was petty on almost every occasion, today the Sistine Chapel is a place of pilgrimage for millions of people around the world who, dazzled by the paintings that the genius made in his vault, are enchanted by what he created. We can say that in art there is a before and after Michelangelo. The figure of Michelangelo exceeds normal conventions by far.