Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, better known as Michelangelo was born on March 6, 1475 and died at the age of 88 on February 18, 1564. Michelangelo Buonarroti was a true Renaissance man thanks to his contributions in fields like sculpture, painting, architecture, poetry and engineering. He had a great influence over the evolution of Western art as we know it today, and even though his contributions are mostly in the fine arts realm, he is still considered as an ideal Renaissance man, much like his peer, Leonardo da Vinci.
The greatest influence Michelangelo Buonarroti had was in painting, where he brought new techniques and genius to the world of painting and sculpture and that is still valid today, when some of his works are among the most famous and brilliant in the world. Unlike da Vinci, we have extensive documentation about Michelangelo’s life thanks to all the notes he kept, his correspondence, sketches and memoirs. Two of his most famous sculptures are a David and the unforgettable Pietà, which is in St. Pietro Basilica at the Vatican today. His rendering of David is a true representation of the era’s movement and ideals and the accurate expression of the human body is admirable and awe-inspiring to this day.
Although he did not think much of painting, Michelangelo Buonarroti created two of the best and weightiest fresco works in the Western art of all time. They are, of course, the Genesis scenes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the same Chapel. These massive and complex undertakings offer a glimpse into the imagination and talent of this great man and, though they were partially controversial at the time for their daring vision, they are still alive today for posterity to enjoy.
Michelangelo Buonarroti also took over as architect for the last part of the building of St. Peter’s Basilica, finishing the western end in his own vision and taste. His fame and admiration were so great even back then that he became the first artist to have biographies written and published while he was still alive. He contributed to the creation and development of Mannerism and his biographies praised him as being the epitome of Renaissance, while many called him Il Divino, the divine one. His works of art still inspire other artists to this day and his influence over Western art is yet palpable.