Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel

Another great artist whose talents rose to fame during the Renaissance is Michelangelo Buonarroti. He was a great painter and sculptor and is renowned for many works of art. He was born in Caprese, Italy on March 6, 1475. His family later moved to Florence which had a large influence on his artistic development. At 13, Michelangelo trained to become an artist by apprenticing with established painter and artist, Domenico Ghirlandaio. After a short time, Michelangelo was being sent to work with the most famous and accomplished artists of the Renaissance.  

Michelangelo’s work became very well known and he was commissioned to create amazing sculptures. His most famous sculpture is the statue of David. He was commissioned by the wool workers in Florence to create the statue in the image of David from the Bible. It is 17 feet tall and was one of the largest statues in Rome at that time. He began the statue in 1501 and completed it a few years later in 1504. The statue of David was the symbol of Florence, and it is considered to be a perfect sculpture. 

After the completion of the statue of David, Michelangelo was asked by Pope Julius II to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel is famous for its richly decorated interior and collection of Renaissance art. Many significant Renaissance painters such as Perugino, Botticelli, and Ghirlandaio were commissioned to paint frescos in the chapel. Michelangelo thought of himself as a sculptor and was reluctant to do the painting, but in 1508 he agreed, and completed it in 1511. This was one of his most challenging works. To complete the painting, Michelangelo stood on a scaffold 60 feet in the air and painted looking up with his arms above his head. The painting was done in Fresco style, with wet plaster that was painted before it dried. The smell and heat made it very difficult to paint and Michelangelo wrote about how sick it made him. Nevertheless he completed it and other amazing paintings in the chapel such as The Last Judgment. The paintings on the Sistine Chapel provided awe and amazement to all who came to see it.

Michelangelo was also a brilliant architect. His most famous structure is St. Peter’s Basilica. Unfortunately he died before its completion, but his designs created inspiration for many of the architectural techniques still used today.

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