Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance born in the Republic of Florence, who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. Take a look below for 30 more interesting and fun facts about Michelangelo.
1. He’s considered by some the greatest living artist during his lifetime, however, he has since been described as one of the greatest artists of all time.
2. Despite making few forays beyond the arts, his artistic versatility was of such a high order that he’s often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with his rival, the fellow Florentine and client of the Medici, Leonardo da Vinci.
3. A number of Michelangelo’s works of painting, sculpture and architecture rank among the most famous in existence.
4. His output in these fields was prodigious, given the sheer volume of surviving correspondence, sketches and reminiscences, he’s the best documented artist of the 16th century.
5. He sculpted two of his best-known works, the Pieta and David, before the age of thirty.
6. Despite holding a low opinion of painting, he also created two of the most influential frescoes in the history of Western art: the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and The Last Judgment on its altar wall.
7. His design of the Laurentian Library pioneered Mannerist architecture.
8. At the age of 74, he succeeded Antonio de Sangallo the Younger as the architect of St. Peter’s Basilica.
9. Michelangelo was the first Western artist whose biography was published while he was still alive.
10. In his lifetime, Michelangelo was often called Il Divino, or The Divine One.
11. He gained notoriety as a sculptor when Florence’s most powerful family, the Medici, purchased his work.
12. When Michelangelo was 21 years old, he went to Rome. On July 4, 1496, that same year, he began a commissioned piece for Cardinal Raffaele Riario. It was a larger than life size statue of Bacchus, the Roman wine god.
13. In 1497, Michelangelo was commissioned to carve a sculpture of the Virgin Mary grieving over Jesus Christ’s body. He was 24 when he completed the work. The sculpture is located in St. Peter’s Basilica today.
14. In 1499, Michelangelo returned to Florence, and was asked by the Guild of Wool to complete a project that had been started 40 years before by Agostino di Duccio. It was a marble statue that he completed in 1504 called the Statue of David. The statue was meant to be a symbol of Florentine freedom. The Statue of David is now located in the Academia.
15. In 1504, he was commissioned to pain the Battle of Cascina, only shortly after Leonardo da Vinci had been commissioned to paint the Battle of Angiari. The paintings were not completed and both works were destroyed when the Palazzo Vecchio’s council chamber was refurbished. Copes of the works remain.
16. Michelangelo was commissioned by Angelo Doni to create a gift for his wife Maddalena Strozzi. It was a painting of the Holy Family. The painting hangs in the Uffizi Gallery in its original frame.
17. In 1505, Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Julius II to build the Pope’s tomb. The project was supposed to be completed in five years, and included 40 statues, but Michelangelo worked on the project for 40 years due to continuous interruptions. He never considered it complete to his satisfaction.
18. For much of the 1520s and 1530s, Michelangelo worked on the Medici Chapel, a family funeral chapel in San Lorenzo’s Basilica.
19. In 1524, he was commissioned to design the interior of the Laurentine Library of San Lorenzo’s Church, and the vestibule. Although the library eventually opened in 1571, the vestibule wasn’t completed until 1904.
20. Michelangelo worked on the fresco of The Last Judgement on the Sistine Chapel’s alter wall from 1534 to 1541.
21. Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci are considered to be the three giants of Florentine high renaissance.
22. He was 88 when he died, and was responsible for creating some of the world’s most renowned and treasured art.
23. Michelangelo didn’t marry and had no children, but was rumored to have love affairs with Tommaso dei Cavalieri and the poet Vittoria Colonna.
24. He was also a poet who wrote over 300 poems.
25. Although their names are often cited together, Michelangelo was younger than Leonardo da Vinci by 23 years, and older than Raphael by eight.
26. While Michelangelo’s David is the most famous male nude of all time and destined to be reproduced in order to grace cities around the world, some of his other works have had even greater impact on the course of art.
27. In his old age, Michelangelo created a number of Pietas in which he apparently reflects upon mortality.
28. In the Florentine Pieta, Michelangelo again depicts himself, this time as the aged Nicodemus lowering the body of Jesus from the cross into the arms of Mary, his mother, and Mary Magdalene.
29. Michelangelo smashed the left arm and leg of the figure of Jesus.
30. The last sculpture that Michelangelo worked on, six days before his death, the Rondanini Pieta, could never be completed because Michelangelo carved it away until there wasn’t enough stone left.