A self-portrait of Michelangelo The Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet Michelangelo (1475–1564) was one of the greatest artists who ever lived. He worked in the early 1500s in Italy during the Renaissance, a period of great artistic and cultural change. Michelangelo was considered a genius during his own lifetime—he was known as Il Divino, “the divine one”. He created his two most famous sculptures, the Pietà and David, before the age of 30, and then, even though he had a low opinion of painting, produced two masterpieces in the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Michelangelo was the first western artist to have biographies of him published while he was still alive.
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was born in Caprese in Tuscany, Italy, on 6th March 1475. His father was a government official. In 1488, aged just 13, Michelangelo began to study art with the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio. A year later, Lorenzo de’ Medici, the ruler of Florence, asked Ghirlandaio for two of his best pupils to come and work for him. Michelangelo was one of the chosen two. He studied sculpture in Florence, where he began to produce his first works.
In 1496 Michelangelo moved to Rome, where he produced one of his most famous sculptures, the marble Pietà, which shows Mary holding the body of Jesus on her lap. The year 1499 found Michelangelo back in Florence to complete the enormous statue of David as well as other works.
As well as his other skills, Michelangelo was also a fine architect. He designed the funeral chapel for the Medici family in Florence and, in 1528–29, worked on the fortifications to protect Florence from its enemies.
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