How Michelangelo Revolutionized Art from The 15th Century

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1288 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Words: 1288|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Table of contents

  1. The Early Life
  2. Michelangelo's Career in Art
  3. Michelangelo's legacy
  4. Conclusion
  5. References

The Early Life

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, a multifaceted genius born on March 6, 1475, in Caprese near Arezzo, Italy, remains an enduring figure of the High Renaissance movement in the 16th century. This polymath was not confined to a single domain but excelled as a painter, poet, sculptor, architect, and engineer. Michelangelo's artistic inclination emerged in his early years, against his father's wishes. By the age of thirteen, he had already created his first male figure drawing. While details of his sculptural training are scant, his talent in this field became evident later in life, as painting took a prominent place in his work.

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In 1488, Buonarroti joined the workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio, where he spent about three years honing his drawing skills by meticulously reproducing the works of renowned local and foreign painters. In 1489, a significant encounter with Lorenzo De Medici in San Marco garden changed the course of Michelangelo's life. Under the patronage of Lorenzo the Magnificent, he discovered his true calling. Though his initial sculptural efforts drew criticism from Lorenzo, Michelangelo's tenacity led to the development and refinement of his craft, showcasing his innate genius. In the annals of art history, no other artist has achieved mastery in multiple artistic disciplines to the extent that Michelangelo did.

Michelangelo's Career in Art

Notable among his sculptural masterpieces are the Madonna and Child, The Pieta, David, and the Tomb. In the realm of painting, his crowning achievements include The Sistine Chapel and the Last Judgment. Michelangelo also made significant contributions to architecture, evidenced by works such as the Plan of Façade, St. Peter's Basilica, and the Laurentian Library.

While Michelangelo generally held an optimistic view of his artwork, his poetry often conveyed a sense of pessimism, a stark contrast. His sculptures, characterized by their representation of humanity in its most natural state, radiated optimism. When he completed The Tomb of Pope Julius II, his relentless revisions illustrated his optimism in realizing his artistic vision. Sculpture remained the central passion of his life, eclipsing all else. The coexistence of optimism and pessimism in Michelangelo's work reflects his deep understanding of both the positive and negative aspects of life, indicating a well-rounded and stable personality.

In 1496, during his sojourn in Rome, Michelangelo created a Sleeping Cupid sculpture, which he intentionally aged to appear ancient. This artifice ultimately led to its exposure as a forgery. His extended stay in Rome further fueled his artistic endeavors. His first Roman work, the Vatican Pieta, became a cornerstone for his subsequent creations. This sculpture, depicting Mary cradling the crucified Jesus, resonated deeply with Vatican patrons, aligning with their core beliefs. Michelangelo's ability to transform a block of stone into a work of profound beauty left onlookers astounded.

One of his most iconic works, the statue of David, draws inspiration from the biblical King David. Michelangelo undertook the task of completing this unfinished masterpiece, which had languished for over four decades. This colossal marble sculpture stands over five meters tall, testifying to Michelangelo's exceptional skill and talent. Controversies surrounding the statue's completion aside, Michelangelo undeniably brought it to its full glory, symbolizing the freedom attained by the people of Florence. This masterpiece is renowned for its depiction of strength and courage, with David's fierce, determined gaze capturing the moment of his triumph over the giant Goliath.

Michelangelo's prowess extended to the realm of painting, where he left an indelible mark. The Sistine Chapel ceiling, an awe-inspiring creation that took four years to complete, continues to baffle viewers. This masterpiece features numerous figures from various biblical stories, rendered in vibrant colors. The use of nude figures generated controversy, with some condemning it as immoral. Nevertheless, Pope Julius II staunchly defended Michelangelo's artistic choices. The enduring presence of these works underscores the enduring legacy of Michelangelo's artistry.

Upon completing his previous masterpiece, Michelangelo found himself in the enviable position of being able to choose his next project. It was during this time that he embarked on the creation of "The Last Judgment." This remarkable work served as an illustration of the second coming of Jesus and the divine judgment that would consign sinful souls to the depths of hell. The fresco painting exudes a palpable sense of fear, a stark departure from his earlier works where the characters appeared less fearful and less formidable. It serves as a stark warning, urging all humanity to fear God in order to avoid eternal damnation. The sheer skill displayed in this fresco painting is nothing short of extraordinary. Executed on fresh plaster and adorning the ceiling, it leaves viewers in awe of the breathtaking artistry that Michelangelo bestowed upon the world. Notably, when he painted the Sistine Chapel, a scaffolding was suspended from the ceiling to allow him to work while sitting or lying on his back, delicately breathing life into the fresco.

Despite his undeniable talent, Michelangelo remained a humble man who often claimed he was not a proficient architect. However, his contributions to architectural design proved otherwise and were recognized posthumously. The Laurentian Library, a testament to his free approach to architectural structures, featured a groundbreaking interior design that left an indelible mark on history. St. Peter's Basilica, completed after eighteen years of dedicated effort, further showcased his architectural prowess. His background in painting and sculpture proved advantageous, enabling him to sketch various designs and refine them as new ideas emerged. Many of his architectural ideas continue to influence contemporary design, including the Dome, St. Peter's, and the symmetrical plan. Michelangelo's architectural innovations paved the way for a rebirth of design principles that persist to this day.

In addition to his primary artistic pursuits, Michelangelo dabbled in other fields, including poetry. While not as prolific in this domain, his poems offer a glimpse into his inner world, revealing both his strengths and vulnerabilities. Some of his notable poems include "Celestial Love" and "The Doom of Beauty." Michelangelo's multifaceted talents left an indelible impact on people's lives in various ways.

Michelangelo's legacy

Michelangelo's legacy transcends time, encapsulating the sculptural innovations of the 15th century and contributing to the emergence of the High Renaissance style in the 16th century. His circle of acquaintances included princes, popes, kings, painters, and cardinals, from Lorenzo de' Medici to Pius III and Clement VIII. While he may not have been easy to comprehend, he was not overly difficult to engage with. In his poetry, he bared his soul more than in other forms of art, delving into his hardships and personal relationships. The poets of the Renaissance regarded him as a divine angel, elevating him beyond the realm of mortals. Some saw him as an obstacle to their own success, perhaps attributing his perceived arrogance to his divine talent. He lived a modest life despite his wealth, prioritizing artistry over material possessions.

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Undoubtedly, Michelangelo received the highest honors for his exceptional achievements. He remains one of the most influential artists in the history of the Italian High Renaissance, leaving an indelible mark on Western art that endures to this day. As a sculptor, painter, architect, and poet, he not only introduced groundbreaking ideas to the world of art but also revolutionized the entire artistic landscape. His willingness to incorporate nudity into his artwork was a groundbreaking departure from the norm, demonstrating his courage and reshaping the artistic landscape of the 15th century. Michelangelo rightfully deserves credit for ushering in a new era in art.


  1. Condivi, A. (2005). The Life of Michelangelo. Penguin Classics.
  2. Vasari, G. (2008). Lives of the Artists. Oxford University Press.
  3. Wallace, W. E. (2011). Michelangelo: The Artist, the Man, and His Times. Cambridge University Press.
  4. Michelangelo Buonarroti. (n.d.). The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  5. Michelangelo. (n.d.). The Vatican.
  6. Frescoes by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. (n.d.). Vatican Museums.
  7. Janson, H. W., & Janson, A. F. (2011). History of Art: The Western Tradition (8th ed.). Pearson
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How Michelangelo Revolutionized Art From The 15th Century. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 22, 2024, from
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