The 10 Most Famous Artworks of Michelangelo
This includes artworks such as David, The Creation of Adam, Pietà and Moses...
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), known simply as Michelangelo, was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance born in the Republic of Florence, who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. His artistic versatility was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with his rival and elder contemporary, Leonardo da Vinci. Several scholars have described Michelangelo as the greatest artist of his age and even as the greatest artist of all time.
In his lifetime, Michelangelo was often called Il Divino (“the divine one”). His contemporaries often admired his terribilità—his ability to instill a sense of awe in viewers of his art. Attempts by subsequent artists to imitate Michelangelo’s impassioned, highly personal style resulted in Mannerism, the next major movement in Western art after the High Renaissance.
niood lists the 10 Most Famous Artworks of Michelangelo:
David is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture, created in marble between 1501 and 1504 by the Italian artist Michelangelo. David is a 5.17-metre (17 ft 0 in) marble statue of the Biblical figure David, a favoured subject in the art of Florence.
The Creation of Adam (Italian: Creazione di Adamo) is a fresco painting by Italian artist Michelangelo, which forms part of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, painted c. 1508–1512. It illustrates the Biblical creation narrative from the Book of Genesis in which God gives life to Adam, the first man. The fresco is part of a complex iconographic scheme and is chronologically the fourth in the series of panels depicting episodes from Genesis.
Location: Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City
In 1546, at age 71, Michelangelo received the greatest and final commission of his life. Pope Paul III appointed him chief architect of the sprawling St. Peter’s Basilica, the opulent centerpiece of the Vatican where popes are laid to rest, and home of the tallest dome in the world. Initially designed by Donato Bromante, the building, during the first 40 years of construction, suffered the push and pull of five subsequent successors with different visions before Michelangelo’s arrival.
He substantially increased the scale of the four major piers at the crossing that supports the dome, and enhanced the thickness of the perimeter of the church.
Type: Marble Statue
Location: St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
In 1497, a cardinal named Jean de Billheres commissioned Michelangelo to create a work of sculpture to go into a side chapel at Old St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The resulting work – the Pieta – would be so successful that it helped launch Michelangelo’s career unlike any previous work he had done. Michelangelo claimed that the block of Carrara marble he used to work on this was the most “perfect” block he ever used, and he would go on to polish and refine this work more than any other statue he created.
The scene of the Pieta shows the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Christ after his crucifixion, death, and removal from the cross, but before he was placed in the tomb. This is one of the key events from the life of the Virgin, known as the Seven Sorrows of Mary, which were the subject of Catholic devotional prayers.
The Last Judgment (Italian: Il Giudizio Universale) is a fresco by the Italian Renaissance painter Michelangelo covering the whole altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. It is a depiction of the Second Coming of Christ and the final and eternal judgment by God of all humanity. The dead rise and descend to their fates, as judged by Christ who is surrounded by prominent saints. Altogether there are over 300 figures, with nearly all the males and angels originally shown as nudes; many were later partly covered up by painted draperies, of which some remain after recent cleaning and restoration.
The work took over four years to complete between 1536 and 1541.
Commissioned in 1505 by Pope Julius II for his tomb, it depicts the biblical figure Moses with horns on his head, based on a description in chapter 34 of Exodus in the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Bible used at that time.
In Christian art of the Middle Ages, Moses is depicted wearing horns and without them; sometimes in glory, as a prophet and precursor of Jesus, but also in negative contexts, especially about Pauline contrasts between faith and law – the iconography was not black and white.
Location: Piazza San Lorenzo, 9, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Architectural Style: Renaissance architecture
At the Laurentian Library, Michelangelo had to surpass interesting structural challenges: the monastic complex already exisited (with monks’ dormitories and adjacent church) and the rest of the neighbourhood was already built up so there was only one place to put the library, and that was above the extant structure. For this reason he had to make it particularly light.
Type: Marble Statue
Location: Church of Our Lady Bruges
The Madonna of Bruges is a marble sculpture by Michelangelo of the Virgin and Child.
Michelangelo’s depiction of the Madonna and Child differs significantly from earlier representations of the same subject, which tended to feature a pious Virgin smiling down on an infant held in her arms. Instead, Jesus stands upright, almost unsupported, only loosely restrained by Mary’s left hand, and appears to be about to step away from his mother. Meanwhile, Mary does not cling to her son or even look at him, but gazes down and away. It is believed the work was originally intended for an altar piece. If this is so, then it would have been displayed facing slightly to the right and looking down. The early 16th-century sculpture also displays the High Renaissance Pyramid style frequently seen in the works of Leonardo da Vinci during the late 1400s.
Bacchus (1496–1497) is a marble sculpture by the Italian High Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect and poet Michelangelo. The statue is somewhat over life-size and depicts Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, in a reeling pose suggestive of drunkenness. Commissioned by Raffaele Riario, a high-ranking Cardinal and collector of antique sculpture, it was rejected by him and was bought instead by Jacopo Galli, Riario’s banker and a friend to Michelangelo. Together with the Pietà the Bacchus is one of only two surviving sculptures from the artist’s first period in Rome.
Type: Panel Painting
Location: Uffizi Gallery
The Doni Tondo portrays the Holy Family (the child Jesus, Mary, and Joseph) in the foreground, along with John the Baptist in the middle-ground, and contains five nude male figures in the background. The inclusion of these nude figures has been interpreted in a variety of ways.