While reading through some of the Smithsonian’s superb blogs, I came across an interesting post that just had to be highlighted. Smithsonian Journeys, a branch of the Smithsonian that specializes in educational travel programs, can send you all over the world in chase of memorable adventures and culturally enriching encounters. Their “Journeys Blog” recently posted on the famed Italian Renaissance artist, Michelangelo.
How much do we know about Michelangelo, anyway? With a reputation as fascinating as his treasured works, “M” should be remembered as more than an artist. He was also a man—a man with faults, a man with quirks. Although he may have reinvented the standard of renaissance art with works such as his Pietà, David, and the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s personal life strikes just as much interest in me as do his masterpieces. Can you blame me? Read this excerpt from Journeys Blog:
1. Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was born March 6, 1475.
2. The family business was small-scale banking, a trade that had been passed down for generations. But his father struggled to keep the business successful, and took government positions to supplement the family income. Because of this break in tradition, Michelangelo was free to explore other career opportunities.
3. At the age of 17, Michelangelo worked as Bertoldo di Giovanni’s apprentice, as did fellow contemporary Pietro Torrigiano. It was Pietro who punched Michelangelo, resulting in a broken nose that is clearly reflective of every portrait of Michelangelo.
4. When Michelangelo was commissioned to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling, the original idea was to paint the 12 Apostles against a starry sky. But the artist insisted on a more complex theme, and when it was finally completed it included 300 figures highlighting stories from the Book of Genesis.
5. Although many of Michelangelo’s most notable works were created earlier in his life—Pietà, for example, was carved when he was 24 years old—he lived a surprisingly long life and passed away at the age of 88.
Michelangelo, the Renaissance god, seems surprisingly human in this light, don’t you think?
*Special thanks to Journeys Blog for such an interesting blog post!