Monday, January 10, 2011

Michelangelo Buonarroti ( history of art )

 It took Michelangelo from 1508 to 1512 to complete the work.

Michelangelo was twenty three years younger than Leonardo da Vinci and in his long lifetime he witnessed a complete change in the position of the artist. In his youth he was trained like any other craftman and at the age of thirteen was apprenticed for three years to the busy workshop of one of the leading masters of late Quatrocento, the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio ( 1449 -94 ).
Domenico Ghirlandaio was one of the masters who knew how to tell a story pleasantly, as if it had just happened among the rich Florentine citizens of the Medici circle who were his patrons. He also proved that he knew how to arrange his groups effectively and how to give pleasure to the eye

In the workshop the young Michelangelo could certainly learn all the technical tricks of the trade, but as far as we know he did not enjoy his days in this workshop, because his ideas of art were different.
Instead of acquiring the facile manner of Ghirlandaio , he went out to study the work of the great masters of the past Giotto, Masaccio and of the Greek and Roman scultors who new how to represent the beautiful human body in motion, with all the muscles.
He made his own research into human anatomy, dissected bodies and drew from models, till the human figure did not seem to hold any secrets from him.
Michelangelo strove with an incredible singleness of purpose to master this one problem, but to master it fully.
David sculpture


In fact difficulties only seemed to attract him, attitudes and angles that a great Quatrocento artist might have hesitated to introduce into his pictures, Michelangelo not only equalled them in their mastery but he surpassed them!
The time was to come when young artists spent several years at art schools studying anatomy, the nude, perpective, and all the tricks of draughtsmanship.

The dying slave ( 1513 )

By the time he was thirty, he was generally acknowledged to be one of the outstanding masters of the age, equal in his way to the genious of Leonardo. The city of Florence honoured him by commisiong him and Leonardo each to paint an episode from Florentine history on a wall of their council chamber.
It was a dramatic moment in the history of art when these two giants competed for the palm, and all Florence watched with excitement the progress of their preparation.
Unfortunately, the works were never completed.

The Holy Family


Pope Julius II wanted his presence in Rome to erect a tomb for him that should be worthy of the overlord of Christendom. With the Pope's permission Michelangelo immediately travelled to the famous marble quarries at Carrara, there to select the blocks which to carve a gigantic mausoleum.
He stayed more than six months at the quarries, buying, selecting and rejecting, his mind seething with images.
When Michelangelo, discovered Pope's loss of enthusiasm for the great enterprise ( due to his plans for a new St Peter's ) and some intrigue or even fear for his rival from Bramante ( St Peter architect) in a fit of fear and fury left from Rome for Florence, were he wrote a rude letter to Pope.


Michelangelo Detail from Marcello Venusti

Is remarkable that Pope did not lose his temper, but started formal negotiations with the head of the city of Florence to persuade the young sculptor to return.
The Florentines even feared that the Pope might turn against them if they continued to give him shelter.
The head of the city of Florence therefore persuaded Michelangelo to return to the service of Julius II, by the use of a diplomatic note that uttered the truth :
" he would achieve things which would amaze the whole world "


Michelangelo sistine chapel

It is difficult for any ordinary mortal to imagine how it could be possible for one human being to achieve what Michelangelo achieved in four years of lonely work on the scaffolding of the papal chapel.
The physical exersion of painting this huge fresco on the ceiling of the chapel, of preparing and sketching the scenes in detail and transerring them to the wall, is fantastic enough.
Michelangelo had to lie on his back and paint looking upwards ( he had use this cramped position that even when he received a letter during this period, he had to hold it over his head and bend backwards to see it !!)


The wealth of even new inventions, the unfailing mastery of execution in every detail, and above all the grandeur of the visions which Michelangelo revealed to those who came after him, have given mankind a quite new idea about the power of genius.

final judgement

High up the walls we see a row of paintings of the stories of Moses and of Christ in the traditional manner of Michelangelo's forerunner.
But as we look upwards, we seem to look into a different world.
It is a world of more than human dimensions.
He painted an endless succession of men and women in infinite variation the ancestors of Christ as they are enumerated in the Bible.

Judith Carrying Away the Head of Holofernes,
 Sistine Chapel


Since it was cleaned of it's many layers of candle soot and dust in the 1980s the colours have been revealed as streong and luminous, a necessity if the ceiling was to be visible in a chapel with so few and narrow windows.
The astonishing nude figures display all Michelangelo's mastery in drawing the human body in any position and form any angle.
It seems to move before our eyes and yet to remain at rest, this is probable the effect Michelangelo aimed at.

 The Conversion of Saulus

If Michelangelo had been famous when Julius II called him to Rome, his fame after the completion of these works was something no artist had even enjoyed before.
But this tremedous fame began to be something like a curse for him.
Reading the poems  Michelangelo wrote show that he was troubled by doudts as to whether his art had been sinful, while his letters make it clear that the higher he rose in th esteem of the world, the more bitter and difficult he became.
He was not only admired, but feared for his temper and he spared neither high nor low.


How sincere he was in the feeling of pround independence is best shown by the fact that he refused payment for his last great work, which occured him in his old age, the complection of the work of his one time enemy Bramante the crowning cupola of St Peter's, as his work regarded as a service to the greater glory of God, which should not be sullied by worldly profit.
 It serves as a fitting monument to the spirit of this singular artist whom his contemporaries called "divine".

from the books indicated below,r:25,s:0&biw=1437&bih=590,r:4,s:0&biw=1437&bih=590,r:18,s:0&tx=65&ty=66,r:8,s:27&biw=1437&bih=590

The photos and the texts on this blog are sourced from books and by various sites from the internet (apart from the ones taken by me). Original source is always mentioned. If you feel your photorights have been violated or they have been presented in a negative way, please send me mail. I´ll remove them from my blog immediately.
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