By Darla McCammon
Michelangelo had four brothers. He was the second in line when he was born March 6, 1475. His family moved to Florence while he was an infant and it did not take his father long to find out that not all of his sons shared his interest in their financial business nor the grammar school nearby. Thus, at age 13, Michelangelo was apprenticed to the fresco painter Ghirlandaio, one of Florence’s best. He, in turn, exposed Michelangelo to much that was good and helpful in his development as an artist.
Ghirlandaio gave Michelangelo a three-year opportunity to study sculptures that were in the famous gardens of Lorenzo dé Medici. This powerful family opened many doors for him in addition to letting him access all their artistic possessions. He soon was invited to actually live in the Medici household. The social contacts with the active and influential friends of the Medici family would last for life. Two of his now famous sculptures are evaluated as incredible testimonials to his artistic talent at the young age of 16. The two that have survived are “Madonna Seated on a Step,”and “Battle of the Centaurs.”
Lorenzo dé Medici’s successor was Piero, who tolerated the likes of Michelangelo but had little interest in art. The climate became very unstable in this household as with many in Florence.
Michelangelo opted to leave Florence and flee to Venice when Charles VIII of France began an invasion of his beloved Florence. He was able to create pieces that built his reputation, including a full sized-cupid that was the center of a fraud. A local dealer took his sculpture and doctored it to look as if it were antique. This surprisingly, did not harm Michelangelo’s reputation but enhanced it. Because of the beautiful work on the cupid he was called to Rome where he soon became known as Italy’s foremost carver of stone and marble. His creation of the Pieta for a Cardinal became a sensation because of the beauty and detail of the work down to the folds of the draperies (photo provided). His capabilities were many and though he balked at painting rather than sculpting he became the sole artist of the frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, lying on his back for hours, even falling once. It took him years to finish and some twenty years after he started he returned and added some final work on the chapel. He was pleased to be made chief architect of the famous St. Peter’s basilica. He was rich and famous during his life, avoiding the “starving artist” mode of so many of those we have studied. He died just before his 89th birthday in 1574. Perhaps the two most versatile artists we have researched in this series would include not only Leonardo Da Vince, but Michelangelo. .
Coming UP: RedBird Art Studio at Warsaw City Hall till July 5. Please visit this exhibit and encourage these budding artists with a purchase. Next, Lakeland Art Gallery exhibiting annual Spring competition through June 12. Details at LakelandArtAssociation.org. Hours 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, at 302 E. Winona Ave.