Portrait by Daniele da Volterra, c. 1545
A genius who cast his influence over all European art until Picasso broke the spell and changed the rules. Sculptor first, painter and architect second. Workaholic, melancholic, temperamental, lonely. Also argumentative and belligerent; he found relationships with others difficult.
He was born near Florence, in the family of the mayor of Caprese. His talent manifested itself at an early age. He was deeply convinced that the human body (especially that of the male) as the ultimate expression of human sensibility and ideal of beauty. His early work shows the human being as the measure of all things: muscular, confident, quasi-divine. Gradually that image becomes more expressive, more human, less perfect, fallible, and flawed.
In painting he uses warm tones, juxtaposing them with grays and blues; employs a wet-in-wet oil paint technique. Note the temperamental shading, the brilliant draftsmanship exploring outline, contour, and volume; the expressive hands; the twisted poses full of latent energy; the faces expressing the full range of human emotions. He was endlessly inventive.
Michelangelo Buonarroti’s major works are The Entombment, c. 1500–01 (London: National Gallery); David, 1501–04 (Florence: Gallerie dell’Accademia); Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes, 1508–12 (Rome: Vatican Museums).
- Robert Cumming. Art: complete encyclopedia. – 512 p. – Moscow: Astrel, 2005.