6 March, birth of Michelangelo in Caprese, a village in the Apennine
Mountains. He was the second son of Lodovico di Lionardo
Buonarotti Simoni, p, a Tuscan administrator. Among the ancestors o-
f this formerly noble family were moneychangers and soldiers, but no
painters, unlike other artists of the period. His four brothers were:
Lionardo (1473~1510), Buonarotto (1477~1528), Giovansimone (1479~1548)
and Sigismondo (1481~1555). Michelangelo's uncle, Francesco,
was a moneychanger. The artist described himself as being "of very
noble lineage." He lost his mother, Francesca di Neri, at the age of six,
an event that surely accounts for many of his characteristics. At the
end of March 1475, he was entrusted to a wet-nurse married to a stonecutter
in Settignano, near Florence, while the family returned to Florence.
The family lived in the Via dei Bentaccordi, near the church of Santa
Croce; Michelangelo received basic instruction at the school run by
Francesco da Urbino.
Michelangelo's father and uncle oppose the child's wish to become
an artist, considering this profession unworthy of the family's social
Encouraged by his friend Francesco Granacci, Michelangelo became
an apprentice in the Florentine workshop of the famous Ghirlandaio
brothers, but stayed only a year. He learned how to draw after the
great masters of the past (Giotto, masaccio) and from life.
Thanks to Granacci, Michelangelo is accepted into Lorenzo de' Medici's
"art academy." His master is Bertoldo di Giovannni, a student
of the great Donatello. Lorenzo treats him like a son. He was able to
study the art of classical Antiquity and frequent such Neoplatonic philosophers
as Politian, Ficino, Beniveni and Pico della Mirandola. It was during this
period that he decided to devote himself to sculpture. Angered
by his constant teasing, one of his fellowstudents, the sculptor
Torrigiani, struck him in the face and broke his nose, multilating him
for the rest of his life.
Upon Lorenzo's death, Michelangelo returned to his family. Although
it was forbidden by the Church, he dissected cadavers, with the help
of the prior of Santo Spirito, for whom he sculpted a wooden Crucifix
Sensing the imminent fall of the Medici family, Michelangelo fled to
Bologna, where he was received by Gianfranco Aldrovandi. He executed
several sculptures for the church of San Domenico, and read the
vernacular classics: Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio.
Return to Florence.
In late June Michelangelo was in Rome in search of patrons. He lived
poorly in the hope of assisting his family. To achieve this he later invested
money in land in the hospital of Santa Maria Novella in Florence.
One of his acquaintances was Cardinal Riario, a cousin of the future
Pope Julius II, and he worked for the wealthy banker Galli. He executed
the Vatican p, originally intended for the tomb of the French
cardinal de Lagraulas (1499). This was the beginning of a
lifelong preoccupation with this subject.
In the spring Michelangelo returned to Florence. On 16th August he
was given the commission for a marble statue of David, and began working
on a painting of the and Child for Agnolo Doni (The
Doni Tondo), on a sculpture of the same subject (The Bruges Madonna)
and on the Taddei Tondo. He was by then a well-known artist.
The operai of Florence Cathedral built a workshop for him at the corner
of Borgo Pini and the Via della Colonna.
After much deliberation, a committee of thirty artists decided to install
the David in front of the Palazzo della Signoria. Michelangelo began
work on the cartoon for The Battle of Cascina to be painted opposite
Leonardo da Vinci's fresco of the Battle of Anghiari in the Palazzo
Vecchio. Neither work was completed.
Michelangelo was in Rome to sign the contract for the tomb of Julius II,
the beginning of a long sculptural fiasco for which he executed a
number of statues. In the end a smplified version was executed by other
artists. The original plan called for forty statues and many bas-reliefs.
Buonarotti was entrusted by Pope Julius II with painting frescoes on
the Sistine Chapel ceiling at the Vatican (1508~1512). Raphael worked
on the decoration of the Vatican stanze and was influenced by Michelangelo.
The artist bought an estate near Florence.
Michelangelo lived at the Macello dei Corvi (which no longer exists),
near the Trajan Forum. Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici, the son of Lorenzo
the Magnificent, was elected to the papacy with the name Leo X
(1513~1521). He gave Michelangelo the title of "Palatine Count,"
although he preferred the clear and harmonious visions of Raphael to
the complex nudes of Buonarotti. He also entrusted the artist with
designing a facade for San Lorenzo, a project that was never realized.
Michelangelo stayed in the Apennines to quarry mable at Carrara and
He bought a house in Florence in the Via Mozza (today San Zanobi)
and adjoining land for the purpose of restoring the family fortunes.
Pope Leo X decided to build a library next to San Lorenzo and a funerary
chapel for the Medici (the New Sacristy). The contract for the
facade is cancelled and Michelangelo describes himself as a "poor, ignoble
and crazy man." But he accepted the two new commissions.
Death of Raphael Sanzio on 6th April. Michelangelo's supporters in
Rome see no more obstacles to his path in the Eternal City.
Death of Pope Leo X; the new pope, Hadrian VI (1522~1523) has no
new projects for Michelangelo.
Cardinal Giulio de' Medici elected pope under the name Clement VII.
His pontificate lasts until 1534.
The sack of Rome; Pope Clement VII held prisoner in the Castel Saint' Angelo,
but managed to escape. Michelangelo remained in Florence.
Buonarotti named governor of the fortifications of Florence, proclaimed
a Republic since 1527.
On 21 September, he fled Florence, taking all possessions with him fearing
they would be requisitioned for the war. He returned in November.
Florence again in the hands of the Medici. The pontifical governor,
Baccio Valori, ordered Michelangelo's assassination because of his political
stance. He goes into hiding with the help of Figiovanni, the prior
of San Lorenzo. In November work resumed on the Medici chapel
in San Lorenzo.
Michelangelo met the young Roman nobleman Tommaso Cavalieri,
a humanist and scholar. Their intense "platonic" relationship induced
Michelangelo to establish himself in Rome. Their friendship lasted
until his death.
Death of Michelangelo's father at the age of 91. Death of Pope Clement VII.
The artist makes Rome his permanent residence.
The new pope, Paul III (1534~1549), commissioned Michelangelo to
paint the Last Judgment for the Sistine Chapel. The pope appoints him
"Supreme Architect, Sculptor and Painter of the Apostolic Palace."
The artist sixty years old and has health problems in spite of his
well-ordered, spartan lifestyle.
Meets Vittoria Colonna, marchioness of Pescara and widow of Francesco
d'Avalos. Under her influence. Michelangelo adopted the doctrine
of justification by faith alone that was close to certain Protestant ideas.
He dedicated many religious poems to her and admired her with a melancholy
fervour. This remarkable woman enhanced Michelangelo's
faith, which grew over the years. His renewed religious beliefs are
expressed in a fresco for the Pauline Chapel, The Conversion of Paul
Inauguration of the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel; astonishment
and scandal over the nude figures.
Julius II's tomb is still unfinished. Michelangelo says he spent his youth
"chained to this tomb." He suffers further from the legal action
of the pope's heirs.
In a letter he asks his nephew Lionardo not to call him Michelangelo
Simoni or sculptor any more but simply Michelangelo Buonarotti, for,
he says, "that is how I am Known."
The ailing Michelangelo is treated by Luigi del Riccio. In a letter he reproaches
his nephew Lionardo for spending too much money, concluding:
"You have all been living at my expense for the past forty years."
In April, he promised the French king Francois I a marble sculpture,
one in bronze, and a painting; no trace of these projects remains. In
November, Pope Paul III ordered him to continue the construction
of the new basilica of St. Peter interrupted by the death of Sangallo
the Younger. In December, Michelangelo sent 2000 scudi to his nephew
Lionardo to buy a house in Florence. He finished the facade and
interior courtyard of the Palazzo Farnese and drew plans for the square
at the Capitol. He complained of gallstones that keep him bedridden.
Under Pope Julius III, Michelangelo devoted himself to various new
The Inquisition spreads under Paul IV Carafa and Michelangelo is denounced
as a heretical "Lutheran." The offensive parts of the nudes
in the Sistine Chapel are "clothed."
Unlike his redecessor, Pope Pius IV (1559~1565) surrounded himself
with a splendid court and was a patron of the arts while consolidating
the anti-Lutheran CounterReformation. Michelangelo is entrusted
with major architectural commissions: the construction of the Pia Gate
(1561), the transformation of the Baths of Diocletian, and the design
of the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
Weakened by fever, Michelangelo worked on the Rondanini p. He
died in Rome on 18th February, in the presence of his closest friends.
According to his wishes, his body was taken secretly to Florence where
he is buried in a tomb built by Vasari in Santa Croce (1572).