| Michelangelo Buonarroti: his Life and his Art - Page 5
After the death of Pope Julius II Michelangelo was asked by the new Pope, Leon X, to return to
Florence. Leon X was the son of Lorenzo the Magnificent of the Medici and a friend to Michelangelo
since childhood. The artist was commissioned to construct the facade of the Pope’s family Church,
San Lorenzo. He was also asked to build the Laurenziana Library near the church and a sepulchral
chapel, situated to the extreme right of San Lorenzo. The Chapel was to contain the tomb of Leone X
himself, of his father (Lorenzo the Magnificent), of his uncle Giuliano, of his brother (Giuliano Duke
of Nemours) and of his nephew (Lorenzo Duke of Urbino). As soon as he received the commission,
Michelangelo left for Carrara to buy the necessary marble at the quarry of the Duke of Alberigo.
Being the marble too expensive there, the artist was ordered to go to Monte Altissimo (Appenines)
where the quarries belonged to the city of Florence and a fine white marble had recently been
discovered. When the marble arrived to Florence Michelangelo immediately started working on the
chapel later called “New Sacresty”, being similar to the “Old Sacresty” built by Filippo Brunelleschi
nearly a century before in the San Lorenzo church. Similar but different: comparing the two sacrities
one can understand the diversity between two of the greatest architects: Brunelleschi serene and
elegant; Michelangelo solemny and tragic. The whiteness of the marble parts contrast with the
vigourous grey stone framing and the statue accentuate the shadows giving it all an austere and
For the chapel Michelangelo sculptured 7 statues:
- “Madonna with Child” that although not finished, reveal sudden movement in the position of the baby
Jesus as he turns to receive his mothers breast.
- Two Armed Captains: the thoughtful Duke Lorenzo and the other the proud Duke Giuliano in
- Four statues: “Day”, “Night”, “Dusk”, and “Down”. Especially the “Night” was highly admired and
praised by everybody.
A poet wrote for Her:
“La notte che tu vedi in si dolci atti dormir,
fu da un Angelo scolpita
in questo sasso; e perchè dorme ha vita.
Destala se nol credi, e parleratti.”
Michelangelo responded with this sonnet:
“Grato m’è il sonno, e pur l’esser di sasso,
mentre che il danno e la vergogna dura,
non veder, non sentir, m’e gran ventura:
però non mi destar, deh, parla basso!”
Michelangelo, after the sacking of Rome and the conseguent exile of the Medici from Florence,
dedicate his efforts, by order of the Republic of Florence, to the fortification of the city against
possible spanish invasion, (which did accurin in 1529).
The Medici eventually returned to Florence and the tyranical Alessandro was appointed to govern the
city. Michelangelo, feeling compromised politically and persecuted by the new Medici, abandoned the
work on the Laurenziana Library and on the New Sacresty leaving it entrely in the faithful hands of
Raffaello da Montelupo, Giovannangelo da Montorsoli, the Tribolo etc... He never returned to
Florence again (1534).
Pope Clemente VII (another Medici Pope) was successed by Pope Paolo III
Farnese who immediately called Michelangelo to paint the “Final Judgement” on one of the walls of
the Sistine Chapel.