At the age of 12, Michelangelo became apprentice to the

Florentine painter, Domenico Ghirlandaio. However, he soon after began to

study sculpture. Michelangelo’s sculptures attracted the attention of the

patronage Lorenzo de Medici, the ruler of Florence until 1494. By the time

Michelangelo was 23, he had completed “Pieta” , a magnificent marble

that depicts the Virgin Mary grieving over the dead Jesus. Soon after this in

1504, he began to work on the colossal figure of “David”. By 1504, the

sculpture was in place outside the Palazzo Vecchio, standing at 14’3”

This statue became a symbol for the new republic that had replaced Medici as


Michelangelo worked on his most famous project from 1508 to 1512.

This was the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Since

Michelangelo always considered himself a sculptor, he first resisted painting

the Sistine . He was quoted as saying “ I cannot live under the pressures

from patrons, let alone paint.” Only the power of the Pope Julius II forced

him into the reluctant achievement of the world’s greatest single fresco.

covered the ceiling with paintings done on wet plaster. The final outcome

showed nine scenes from the Old Testament. Michelangelo later painted

“The Last Judgment” on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel.

Michelangelo became more involved in architecture and poetry toward

the end of his life. In 1546, he was made chief architect of the partly

finished St. Peter’s Church in Rome, where the Pieta is now kept.


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