Michelangelo Buonarroti was born on March 6, 1475. He lived almost a full century and died on February 18, 1564; he was still working six days before his death. During his life, the western world underwent what was perhaps the most remarkable period of change since the decline of the Roman Empire. The Renaissance saw changes in all aspects of life and culture, with dramatic reforms sweeping through the worlds of religion, politics, and scientific belief. Michelangelo was one of the advocates of this new philosophy, while creating some of the most beautiful and very famous artwork pieces ever created.
He was born at Caprese, in Tuscany, “he was the second of five sons of Lodovico di Leonardo (a civil servant) and Francesca Buonarroti.” (Bradbury page 6). The family had two homes: one in the Tuscan countryside, and a much smaller one in the city of Florence. In 1481, when Michelangelo was six years old, his mother died. The year 1481, had quite an impact on Michelangelo, in addition to the death of his mother, “he also had his first drawing lesson from a local artist named Francesco Granacci.” (Bradbury 6)
In 1488, at the age of 13, Michelangelo moved to Florence and began working as an assistant to Domenico Ghirlandaio, who had recently started work on Florence’s Santa Maria Novella Church. In 1489, after completing just one year of his apprenticeship, Michelangelo came to the attention of Lorenzo de’ Medici, who summoned the boy to his court. It was there that he began to learn the secrets of sculpting and by creating drawings of the statues and attempting to recreate them in clay.
“Through his association with the court of Lorenzo, Michelangelo was in contact with the most brilliant thinkers, artists, and wr…
…s of his life traveling in much the same way as he had started his adult years. He returned to Rome after the threat had passed and it was there that his life ended; he was buried at the church of Saint Apostoli in a huge formal ceremony. “However, the story of his remarkable life was not over even in death; after burial, his body was secretly reclaimed and smuggled back to Florence, on the orders of Duke Cosimo de’ Medici.” (Bradbury 10). Here it was laid to rest in the church of Santa Croce. It remains there today, in a magnificent marble tomb designed by Vasari in 1570. The tomb bears a bust of Michelangelo, below which are sculptures of three sorrowing women: Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting.
Bradbury, Kirsten. Essential Michelangelo. New York: Parrogon, 2000.
Gilbert, Rita. Living With Art. San Francisco: McGraw Hill. 1992.