Monday, February 18, 2019

The Death of Michelangelo

The Death of Michelangelo


      Today marks the anniversary of the death in 1564 of Michelangelo Buonarroti.

      Originally trained by means of an apprenticeship in sculpture, he had previously spent time as well living with the family of a stone mason.  While living with the mason he was struck and his nose was broken; the consequences of the mishap can be seen thereafter in his portraits.  Before reaching the age of thirty, Michelangelo created any number of significant works, including the Pieta, now in the Vatican, and his statue of David, which remains in Florence.  He as well created the statue of Moses with Horns (the horns being based upon a translaion error in the Bible) that is a portion of the tomb of Pope Julius II; the final tomb was far smaller than intended.

      He was a contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Titian.

      Although throughout his life he claimed he was a sculptor and not a painter, Michelangelo created innumerable paintings, most memorably the frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and as well as the Last Judgment painted on the alter wall of the chapel.  Famously, Michelangelo’s portrait appears in the latter, appearing on the flayed skin of St. Bartholomew.  Today, the Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church gather under those paintings when called upon to elect the next Bishop of Rome.

      Michelangelo had also been commissioned (although the work was never put in place) to provide a new façade to a basilica in Florence and as well served as the architect for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  With respect that second project, much of the current shape of the basilica is his invention as is the design of the dome.

      While he died in Rome, Michelangelo was buried in Florence. As recorded by Vasari:

They [those gathered for his funeral] did so eagerly that those who could approach near and get a shoulder under the bier could indeed count themselves fortunate, for they realized that in the future they would be able to boast of having carried the remains of the greatest man their arts had ever known.

     February 18 is also the anniversary of the death in 1546 of Martin Luther.  Following the admonition that if you don’t have anything nice to say about somebody you should say nothing , ....

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