Michelangelo Buonarroti and Florence

Michelangelo-Buonarroti_cropOn March 6, 1475, in a tiny Tuscan village of Caprese Michelangelo, the most famous artist of all times Michelangelo Buonarroti was born. Michelangelo was a universal renaissance artist – painter, sculptor, architect, poet, engineer, recognised as an artist while he was still alive and called “il divino” (English: the divine). True, he was also known for his foul temper – he was constantly quarrelling with other artists and clients, even the Popes of Rome. On the occasion of genius’ birthday, UnseenTuscany.com gives you a brief synopsis of his life and works that you can see during a visit to Florence.

Caprese MichelangeloThe Buonarroti family, who were occupied in banking and marketing in Florence, were known since the 13th century. In the 15th century, the family was going through a difficult phase, Michelangelo’s father was appointed as the elder of a tiny village Caprese. After the birth of the artist, the family moved to the suburbs of Florence. Michelangelo’s father sent his son to Florence to study grammar with a teacher Francesco da Urbino. However, Michelangelo was more interested in art; he was painting and tried to get acquainted with the Florentine artists. In order to deter Michelangelo from arts, his father even beat him. Nevertheless, the stubborn Michelangelo had his will, got acquainted with Domenico Girlandaio and became his apprentice. Later Lorenzo il Magnifico personally took care of a young genius.

After several long trips to Rome, in the 1501s Michelangelo returned to Florence, where he was already known as the author of ‘Pieta’. In Florence he got involved in the process of creating ‘David’ and at the same time was busy with the sculptures of Siena cathedral. The ‘David’ was completed in about two years and now this unique sculpture can be seen in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence.

Accademy GalleryIn the 1518s Michelangelo returned to Florence and began the decoration works of the San Lorenzo church facade. He went to Carrara marble quarry to look for proper stones, but the project was ended until it was begun – Pope Leo X withdrew it due to the lack of funds. The Pope offered to take another project – to create a mortuary chapel for members of the Medici family and the Laurentian Library (Italian: Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana) for the collection of the manuscripts that belonged to the Medici, located in the Basilica of St. Lawrence (which lacks a façade to this day).

In 1529 Michelangelo was appointed as one of nine republican officials, responsible for the design and implementation of defensive bastions and other fortifications. The main task for Michelangelo was the fortifications of the most important Florentine fortress on San Miniato hill.

Michelangelo was invited to paint a huge fresco in the restored Palazzo Vecchio Palace, but this project was never realized. True, you can now see his sculpture ‘Genio della Vittoria’ in the main hall of the palace.

tomb of michelangeloMichelangelo died on February 18, 1564, just before his 89th birthday. During his long life Michelangelo worked for 7 popes, survived the great geographical discoveries, the Reformation, the seizure of Rome in 1527, the collapse of the ideals of the High Renaissance and the establishment of Mannerism in art, the announcement of Copernicus’ Heliocentric theory. He was never married and did not have any children. Church authorities hoped to bury him in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, but Michelangelo’s family almost secretly transported his body to Florence in order to satisfy his lasts will: ‘take me back to Florence, when I am dead, because I cannot go back there while I am alive’. Michelangelo was buried in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence, where his tomb remains till today.