Interior: Hammer & Chisel
Michelangelo (1475-1564) was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet and engineer of the High Renaissance. Considered the greatest living artist during his lifetime, his influence on the development of Western art is unparalleled. Michelangelo Buonarroti was the second of five sons born to a respectable but impoverished Florentine family. He had a stormy relationship with his father yet made great sacrifices to help him and his four brothers (his mother died when he was young). He was known for his strong personality and was legendary for doing battle with anyone he disagreed with. Though there are many treasures dating from the 16th century that bear evidence to his talent, he is best known for the series of frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. His Last Judgment painting for the same chapel’s altar wall is also considered one of the High Renaissance’s most important achievements. A statue of David, completed in 1504 early in his career, became the symbol of Florence’s glorious political heritage, while one of his last projects, the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, was copied by architects for centuries thereafter. Michelangelo was one of the first artists to attain celebrity status in his own lifetime, and prior to his 1564 death, several biographies had already been written. He was also a poet and prolific letter writer. Despite his wealth, during his last 30 years, he lived in a small dark house in an alley, where he seldom bathed. He remained lean and strong, and even in old age could split blocks of marble with a single strike. Michelangelo worked until the then-unusual age of 88, when he caught a fever after riding his horse in the rain and died a few days later.