Michelangelo : biography

6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564


a. Michelangelo’s father marks the date as 6 March 1474 in the Florentine manner ab Incarnatione. However, in the Roman manner, ab Nativitate, it is 1475.
b. Sources disagree as to how old Michelangelo was when he departed for school. De Tolnay writes that it was at ten years old while Sedgwick notes in her translation of Condivi that Michelangelo was seven.
c. The Strozzi family acquired the sculpture Hercules. Filippo Strozzi sold it to Francis I in 1529. In 1594, Henry IV installed it in the Jardin d’Estang at Fontainebleau where it disappeared in 1713 when the Jardin d’Estange was destroyed.
d. Vasari makes no mention of this episode and Paolo Giovio’s Life of Michelangelo indicates that Michelangelo tried to pass the statue off as an antique himself.

Architectural work

Michelangelo worked on many projects that had been started by other men, most notably in his work at St Peter’s Basilica, Rome. The Campidoglio, designed by Michelangelo during the same period, rationalized the structures and spaces of Rome’s Capitoline Hill. Its shape, more a rhomboid than a square, was intended to counteract the effects of perspective. The major Florentine architectural projects by Michelangelo are the unexecuted façade for the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence, and the Medici Chapel (Capella Medicea) and Laurentian Library there, and the fortifications of Florence. The major Roman projects are St. Peter’s, Palazzo Farnese, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, the Sforza Chapel (Capella Sforza) in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Porta Pia and Santa Maria degli Angeli.

Laurentian Library

Around 1530, Michelangelo designed the Laurentian Library in Florence, attached to the church of San Lorenzo. He produced new styles such as pilasters tapering thinner at the bottom, and a staircase with contrasting rectangular and curving forms.

Medici Chapel

Michelangelo designed the Medici Chapel and in fact used his own discretion to create its composition. The Medici Chapel has monuments in it dedicated to certain members of the Medici family. Michelangelo never finished the project, so his pupils later completed it. Two wall-tombs intended for the brothers Giuliano and Lorenzo de’ Medici are found within the entry chambers of the tombs. They are adorned with allegorical figures of the times of day (Night & Day on Giuliano’s side and Dusk & Dawn on Lorenzo’s side.) Lorenzo the Magnificent was buried at the entrance wall of the Medici Chapel. Sculptures of the "Madonna and Child" and the Medici patron saints Cosmas and Damian were set over his burial. The "Madonna and Child" was Michelangelo’s own work. The concealed corridor with wall drawings of Michelangelo’s under the New Sacristy was discovered in 1976.. ISBN 5-85050-825-2Peter Barenboim, "Michelangelo Drawings – Key to the Medici Chapel Interpretation", Moscow, Letny Sad, 2006, ISBN 5-98856-016-4

Personal life

In his personal life, Michelangelo was abstemious. He told his apprentice, Ascanio Condivi: "However rich I may have been, I have always lived like a poor man."Condivi, The Life of Michelangelo, p. 106. Condivi said he was indifferent to food and drink, eating "more out of necessity than of pleasure" and that he "often slept in his clothes and … boots." His biographer Paolo Giovio says, "His nature was so rough and uncouth that his domestic habits were incredibly squalid, and deprived posterity of any pupils who might have followed him."Paola Barocchi (ed.) Scritti d’arte del cinquecento, Milan, 1971; vol. I p. 10. He may not have minded, since he was by nature a solitary and melancholy person, bizzarro e fantastico, a man who "withdrew himself from the company of men."Condivi, The Life of Michelangelo, p. 102.