Authors: Michelangelo

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Florentine artist and poet

Author Works


Rime di Michelagnolo Buonarroti, 1623

Le Rime di Michelagnolo Buonarroti, 1863 (Cesare Guasti, editor)

The Sonnets of Michel Angelo, 1878

Sonnets of Michel Angelo, 1905

Rime di Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1960

The Complete Poems of Michelangelo, 1960

Michelangelo: Self-Portrait, 1963


I, Michelangelo, Sculptor: An Autobiography Through Letters, 1962

The Letters of Michelangelo, 1963


Complete Poems and Selected Letters of Michelangelo, 1963


Michelangelo (mi-kuh-LAN-juh-loh) was born Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni on March 6, 1475, at Caprese, Tuscany, Republic of Florence. His father, a well-established citizen of Florence, is thought to have been a descendant of the counts of Canossa. As early as 1488, Michelangelo was learning his artist’s vocation in the workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio in Florence, and soon he was also studying under the protection of Lorenzo the Magnificent, who had quickly recognized the young artist’s budding genius and taken him into the palace “academy.” Here the young Michelangelo associated with some of the greatest Humanists of the age–Politian, Ficino, and Pico della Mirandola, among others–and he absorbed the characteristic neo-Platonism of these men. Its influence would be lifelong in both his painting and his poetry.{$I[AN]9810000660}{$I[A]Michelangelo}{$I[geo]ITALY;Michelangelo}{$I[tim]1 475;Michelangelo}


(Library of Congress)

After a few years the political troubles that convulsed Florence forced Michelangelo to flee to Bologna; in 1496, he went to Rome. From this period date his earliest important sculptures, the Bacchus and the Pietà. In 1501 he returned to Florence. This homecoming was to be very productive for him: He completed, among many other works, his famous statue of David and his painting of Saint Matthew during this time. However, Michelangelo soon returned to Rome, where he was commissioned by Pope Julius II to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He began this great project on May 10, 1508, and unveiled it on October 31, 1512. During this same period he finished his statue of Moses and began work on the Medici tombs in Florence.

In 1527 Michelangelo was in Florence. When the Medici were overthrown, he enthusiastically participated in building fortifications for the city; however, he soon had to flee back to Rome after the treason of Malatesta Baglioni. There, at the order of Pope Paul III, he undertook his last monumental work: the painting on the wall of the Sistine Chapel, The Last Judgment. This mural took him eight years to complete and was unveiled on All Saints’ Day, 1541.

About 1534, after having finally settled in Rome, Michelangelo began his most productive period as a poet. He had, however, been writing verse from at least the turn of the century. The most admired of his poems, which are thought by many to be the best lyric poetry written in Italian during the sixteenth century, were inspired by his platonic relationship with the Roman aristocrat and widow Vittoria Colonna. This virtuous and devout woman, a poet herself, was much admired by the poets and artists of her time. Several of them, including Michelangelo, preserved her likeness in sculpture or oil paintings. Michelangelo felt her premature death, in 1547, very keenly, regretting it eloquently in his verse.

Michelangelo’s last years were taken up with architecture more than with painting and sculpture. Few of the artworks of his last period are thought to be among his best. In architecture, however, he was highly influential. He worked on the last stages of the construction of Saint Peter’s basilica and designed the dome, which was not completed in his lifetime. Michelangelo died in Rome in 1564, the year of William Shakespeare’s birth.

BibliographyBarolsky, Paul. The Faun in the Garden. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994. Barolsky’s “analysis of poetic imagination” deeply relates Michelangelo’s poetry to his artistic works and his contemporary biographies. He used all three to weave a fabrication of his “self” as creator and man.Cambon, Glauco. Michelangelo’s Poetry: Fury of Form. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985. A specialized study of the diverse talents of Michelangelo.De Vecchi, Pierluigi. Michelangelo. New York: H. Holt, 1992. Biography includes bibliographical references and index.Gilbert, Creighton. Michelangelo: On and Off the Sistine Ceiling. New York: George Braziller, 1994. A specialized study of the diverse talents of Michelangelo.Hallock, Ann Hayes. Michelangelo the Poet. Palo Alto, Calif.: Page-Ficklin, 1978. Hallock presents a reading and contextualizing of the Rime, emphasizing his “drive toward the essential.” She uncovers elements of this in his use of language and “nuclei” (themes) of patria, family, friends, soul, and life and death. Often complicated language and no English translations.Leites, Nathan Constantin. Art and Life: Aspects of Michelangelo. New York: New York University Press, 1986. Psychoanalytic biography includes index and bibliography.Ryan, Christopher. The Poetry of Michelangelo: An Introduction. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1998. This introduction to the poet and poems emphasizes the individual works and the corpus itself, as it attempts to clarify the intricacies of both. Ryan lays the works out chronologically, in stages, providing relevant historical and biographical background. Translations are the author’s.
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