August 26, 1498 between the Italian sculptor Michelangelo Buonarroti and the French cardinal Jean de Villiers Fezanzac signed an agreement on the creation of a sculptural group for the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rome. This is how “Pieta” (“Lamentation of Christ”) appeared - a beautiful marble statue, which to this day is one of the most famous works in the history of world art. At that time, Michelangelo was only 23 years old.
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"Lamentation of Christ" or "Pieta"
Arriving in Rome in 1496, two years later, Michelangelo received an order for a statue of the Virgin Mary and Christ.
He carved an unparalleled sculptural group, including the figure of the Virgin Mary, grieving over the body of the Savior, taken from the cross. The Pieta group, designed to decorate the chapel of the Virgin Mary in St. Peter's, became the pinnacle of skill of the young sculptor.
The order for the sculptural group was obtained thanks to the guarantee of banker Jacopo Galli, who acquired Michelangelo statues and helped him in every way. The contract was signed on August 26, 1498, the customer was the French Cardinal Jean de Villiers Fezanz. Under the contract, the master undertook to perform the work for the year, and received for her 450 ducats. The work was completed around 1500, after the death of Cardinal, who died in 1498. Perhaps this marble group was originally intended for the future tomb of the customer. By the time the “Lamentation of Christ” ended, Michelangelo was only 25 years old, and many did not believe in his authorship. Then the stung young man in a sling running over the left shoulder of the Madonna, for the first and last time, cut out the signature: “Michelangelo Buonarroti the Florentine performed”.
The history of the sculpture began when, in the middle of the 15th century, a huge block of marble was mined in Carrara, which lay in the courtyard of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, intended for the colossal statue of the biblical hero David.
The boulder was nine feet high. By the beginning of the 16th century, abandoned marble was a pitiful sight. With each decade, the marble block inexorably melted in size due to the damaging effects of precipitation. Finally, the curators of the cathedral, after consulting with the experts of the sculpture, recognized the stone as suitable for finishing work. After some hesitation, the completion of "David" was entrusted to the 26-year-old sculptor Michelangelo Buonarroti, who is known for his ambition. August 16, 1501 the contract was concluded. Michelangelo uttered two years, counting from September 1, and September 13, on Monday, began work early in the morning. The sculptor prepared more than a hundred sketches of the future statue, made a small clay model, which he poured with milk in the tank, with which he determined the sequence of work on the marble block. Because of the gross damage of the stone, it was necessary to accurately mark the future statue, up to a centimeter. First, the master cut out David’s left hand. One arm of a gigantic figure needed to be depicted bent at the elbow - because of the potholes in the marble block.
Michelangelo’s struggle to extract the ideal human body from a shapeless clump lasted two years. In 1504, the work was completed. It is said that having finished the statue, Michelangelo decorated it with a crown of copper sheet.
On January 25, a commission of experts was convened to discuss the question of where to place the statue. At the request of the author, they decided to place it at the entrance to Signoria Square, where she stood for three centuries.
Transportation of the colossal statue to the walls of the Palazzo Vecchio took three days. The opening of "David" was held on September 8. The Florentines were shocked - the marble statue brought Michelangelo fame and strengthened his reputation as the first sculptor of Italy.
Painting of the Sistine Chapel
In 1508, Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel - the church of the Roman pontiffs, in which the popes were held.
The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, 1508-1512
The church was built in the 1470s by Uncle Julia, Pope Sixtus IV, by whose name it received its name. The Sistine Chapel is a vast area 40.1 m long, 14 m wide and 20 m high. In the early 1480s, the altar and side walls were decorated with frescoes on evangelical scenes and scenes from the life of Moses, the creation of which involved Perugino, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Rosselli. Above them were portraits of the popes, and the vault remained empty.
Michelangelo, who had minimal painter experience, began this work on May 10, 1508 and finished on September 5, 1512. More than four years of labor, requiring almost superhuman spiritual and physical stress. A visual idea of this is given by the following sarcastic poems of the sculptor:
I received for work only goiter, ailment
(So puppy cats muddy water
In Lombardy - frequent trouble!)
He put his chin into the womb;
Chest like harpies; my skull is angry
I climbed to the hump; and a beard on end;
And from the brush to the face of the stream flows
Rowing me in brocade, like a coffin;
Hips moved clean in the stomach;
And the ass, in contrast, swelled into a barrel;
The feet do not suddenly converge with the earth;
Leather hangs forward in a box
And behind the fold is turned into a line,
And all I am arched, like a Syrian bow.
Standing on the scaffolding, throwing his head far back, Michelangelo wrote everything himself, fearing to entrust anything to his assistants. “I do not care,” he said in one of his letters, “neither about health, nor about earthly honors, I live in the greatest labors and with a thousand suspicions.” And in another letter (brother) he stated with full right: “I am working through strength, more than any person who ever existed”.
Julius hurried the master, but Michelangelo did not allow the formidable customer into the chapel during work, and when he nevertheless penetrated under its vaults, he dropped them from the forest, allegedly unintentionally, boards, putting the enraged pontiff to flight.
But the result was undoubtedly worth the effort. “Without seeing the Sistine Chapel,” wrote Goethe, “it’s difficult to get a clear idea of what one person can do.”
Pope Julius II died 3 months after the opening of the frescoes of the Sixtina.
In his will, he ordered Michelangelo to complete his tomb. For three years the sculptor went to work and created his most perfect creations, among which is the statue of Moses.
The 2.5-meter statue of the prophet, completed to the smallest detail in the finishing of marble and its polishing, leaves no one indifferent. “If you have not seen this statue,” Stendal wrote, “you have no idea about the possibilities of sculpture.” And according to contemporaries, one “Moses” is enough to perpetuate the Roman pontiff.
In 1534, almost a quarter of a century after the end of the painting of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo (commissioned by Pope Clement VII) began work on one of the most ambitious frescoes in the entire history of world painting - "The Last Judgment".
The Last Judgment, 1537-1541
At this time he was far from being young - the 60th year was the great master. He looked wrinkled, hunched, tired. His joints ached, his teeth ached, he suffered from migraines and neuralgia. Six years it took Michelangelo to complete his creation.
And on the last October day of 1541, higher clergy and invited lay people gathered in the Sistine Chapel to attend the opening of a new fresco of the altar wall. Tense expectation and shock were so great, and the general nervous excitement so heated the atmosphere that the Pope (already Paul III) fell to his knees in awe at the fresco, begging God not to recall his sins on the Day of Last Judgment.
The work of the artist has caused fierce debate among both his fans and among opponents. During the life of Michelangelo, Pope Paul IV, who was very disapproving of the “Last Judgment”, while he was still Cardinal Carafoy, he wanted to destroy the mural, but then decided to “dress” all the characters and ordered naked bodies to be draped. When Michelangelo found out about this, he said: “Tell dad that this is a small matter and it is easy to settle it. Let him bring the world into a decent look, and with pictures it can be done quickly. ” Whether the pope understood the entire depth of the artist's ironic taunts is unknown, but he gave the appropriate order. And again in the Sistine Chapel were built scaffolding, which paints and brushes climbed painter Daniele da Volterra. He worked long and hard, because he had to draw a lot of various draperies. During his work, he received the nickname “brachetone” during his lifetime, which literally means “shrouded”, “under-the-shoulder”. With this nickname, his name remains forever linked in history.
In 1596, another pope, Clement VIII, wanted to bring down the entire “Last Judgment”. Only the intercession of artists from the Roman Academy of St. Luke was able to convince the pontiff not to commit such a barbaric act. The misadventures of the “Last Judgment”, which caused great damage to the mural, continued for a long time. But centuries passed, the names of the detractors and enemies of the great Michelangelo were forgotten, and his imperishable works remain eternal.