| Michelangelo Buonarroti: his Life and his Art - Page 2
In 1492 Lorenzo the Magnificent died and his family was forced to flee Florence for political reasons.
Michelangelo decided to accept an invitation to Bologna from the merchant and patron of the arts
Gianfrancesco Aldovrandi. There he executed St. Petronius and an angel holding a candelabrum for St.
A year later Michelangelo returned to Florence and apparently presented S.Spirit’s parish Priest with
a wooden Crucifix (now lost) for being permitted to sneak into certain hospital rooms next to the
church to study and dissect human cadavers. The practise of dissection was strictly forbidden by the
Church at this time.
Although very young, Michelangelo’s reputation grew quickly and he was then called to Rom by the
banker Jacopo Galli who commissoned him to carve “the Baccus”. The young god looks quite drunk
while holding a lionskin (symbol of death) and grapes (symbol of life) on which a faun is feeding. The
statue was considered such a great achievement that tha cardinal of St. Denis immediately asked
Michelangelo to sculpture a Pietà for one of the chapels in St. Peter’s. “Pietà” (pain, compassion) is
related to the idea of Redemption. This statue expresses beyond any doubt this concept: the seated
eternally young Madonna is holding the lifeless body of Christ, Her face is young beyond time. The
dead body of Christ shows the the very perfection of anatomical research in every muscle, vein, nerve
and bone. It is so lifelike that one forgets the figures are actually cold marble...Michelangelo was only
23 when he finished this marvellous work. There is no doubt that he had surpassed any contemporary
sculptor and was to be compared to the great masters of the ancient times.
While completing the “Pietà” Michelangelo’s friends in Florence asked him to come back home; they
informed him that there was a huge block of Carrara marble (9 braccia = 18 feet) lying in the
warehouse of the Cathedral Church. The marbe block had already been injured years before by some
other artist (Agostino di Duccio, Simone da Fiesole?) who hadn’t felt able to go on and do
anything out of it; for this reason the piece of marble had a large hole in the center and flaws
evrywhere. Michelangelo, becauseof his renowned reputation , had the marble granted by Piero
Soderini, Governor for life of the new Republic of Florence. The artist immediately started working on
a wax figure from which the large statue of David holding a sling in his left hand was to evolve. The
actual carving started in August 1501; Michelangelo worked on it constantly every day and sometimes
into the night, too.