Michelangelo, in full Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, (born March 6, 1475, Caprese, Republic of Florence [Italy]—died February 18, 1564, Rome, Papal States), Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, and poet who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art.
Michelangelo was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and ever since then he has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time. A number of his works in painting, sculpture, and architecture rank among the most famous in existence. Although the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (Vatican; see below) are probably the best known of his works today, the artist thought of himself primarily as a sculptor. His practice of several arts, however, was not unusual in his time, when all of them were thought of as based on design, or drawing. Michelangelo worked in marble sculpture all his life and in the other arts only during certain periods. The high regard for the Sistine ceiling is partly a reflection of the greater attention paid to painting in the 20th century and partly, too, because many of the artist’s works in other media remain unfinished.
A side effect of Michelangelo’s fame in his lifetime was that his career was more fully documented than that of any artist of the time or earlier. He was the first Western artist whose biography was published while he was alive—in fact, there were two rival biographies. The first was the final chapter in the series of artists’ lives (1550) by the painter and architect Giorgio Vasari. It was the only chapter on a living artist and explicitly presented Michelangelo’s works as the culminating perfection of art, surpassing the efforts of all those before him. Despite such an encomium, Michelangelo was not entirely pleased and arranged for his assistant Ascanio Condivi to write a brief separate book (1553); probably based on the artist’s own spoken comments, this account shows him as he wished to appear. After Michelangelo’s death, Vasari in a second edition (1568) offered a rebuttal. While scholars have often preferred the authority of Condivi, Vasari’s lively writing, the importance of his book as a whole, and its frequent reprinting in many languages have made it the most usual basis of popular ideas on Michelangelo and other Renaissance artists. Michelangelo’s fame also led to the preservation of countless mementos, including hundreds of letters, sketches, and poems, again more than of any contemporary. Yet despite the enormous benefit that has accrued from all this, in controversial matters often only Michelangelo’s side of an argument is known.
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 (17.0 ft)[a] marble statue of the Biblical hero David, a favoured subject in the art of Florence.
David was originally commissioned as one of a series of statues of prophets to be positioned along the roofline of the east end of Florence Cathedral, but was instead placed in a public square, outside the Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of civic government in Florence, in the Piazza della Signoria where it was unveiled on 8 September 1504. The statue was moved to the Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence, in 1873, and later replaced at the original location by a replica.
Because of the nature of the hero it represented, the statue soon came to symbolize the defence of civil liberties embodied in the Republic of Florence, an independent city-state threatened on all sides by more powerful rival states and by the hegemony of the Medici family. The eyes of David, with a warning glare, were fixated towards Rome.