The Mary Renault Society

The Triangle Area of North Carolina

Michelangelo and His Works

David by Michelangelo La Pieta by Michelangelo

Sistine Chapel detail by Michelangelo

The topic is Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known of course, simply as Michelangelo. Those who have been blessed with seeing the actual statue of David that Michelangelo carved in Florence (1501-04) are aware that he may be the greatest sculptor who has ever lived (if you haven’t seen the original, there is a bronze reproduction in Sioux Falls, SD). His Pieta, in St. Peter’s in Rome, is similarly incredible.

Michelangelo didn’t consider himself a painter so Pope Julius II had to twist his arm to get him to paint the Sistine Chapel (1508-1512). Pope Clement VII somehow also prevailed on him to replace the fresco on the altar wall (1534-1541), completed under his successor, Paul III.

One very well-known feature of the ceiling is Michelangelo’s inclusion of 20 athletic nude male figures, called ‘ignudi’ (a term Michelangelo coined). See this YouTube video on the sibyls and ignudi of the ceiling.

In 1547 Michelangelo took over the barely begun work of building St Peter’s Basilica, where he designed the Greek cross center of the building, as well as its dome (the tallest in the world). He died in 1564 with the drum beneath the ovoid dome complete, lacking only the dome itself.

Michael W. Brantley, an author and former Director of Education at the North Carolina Museum of Art, gives lectures on features of art in history to a variety of groups. He has given many lectures to the Mary Renault Society.


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