A Short History of Italian Painting

By Alice Van Vechten Brown; William Rankin | Go to book overview
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MICHELANGELO BUONARROTI was the son of Ludovico di Lionardo di Buonarrota Simoni, a substantial Florentine, whose family history can be traced back to the early 13th century. He was born in the Casentino ( March 6, 1475), while his father was for a short time Podestà there, and on the return to Florence he was left to nurse with the wife of a stone-cutter in the hamlet of Settignano on the hills above Florence. Three periods are distinguished in Michelangelo's career: 1. That of his youth ( 1475-1508), a period of the most strenuous self-discipline; 2. That of his mature manhood (from his thirty-fourth to sixtieth year); 3. That of his somewhat disillusioned old age. Cox happily characterises them as the periods of realism, of style, and of mannerism.

The child's predilection for art was at first opposed by his family, but finally, at the age of thirteen (in 1488), he was apprenticed to Ghirlandaio, who was engaged at the time on the Frescoes in the apse of S. M. Novella. Here he was treated with especial consideration, and was even allowed a small stipend, unusual for a beginner. No sounder technical training than Ghirlandaio's could be found in Florence. Though narrow, it was entirely adequate for monumental work, and its faithfulness and accomplished technique are evident even in Michelangelo's mature style. But much though Michelangelo doubtless gained from Ghirlandaio's training, he was of a different spirit, and within two years he had followed a comrade ( Francesco Granacci) into a sort of Academy held in the Medici gardens near S. Marco, where an old assistant of Donatello's--Bartoldo--was giving in

The data for Michelangelo's life are found in the biographies of his friends Vasari and Condivi, supplemented by his own voluminous correspondence and by documentary records. For these, see Symonds' Life of Michelangelo and Holroyd Michel Angelo. For analysis and reproduction of drawings, and for appreciation, see B. B. Flor. Drawings.See also Cox, Old Masters and New, for æsthetic analysis, not for attributions.


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A Short History of Italian Painting
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