Study Days

The Life of the Divine Michelangelo Buonarroti

Ambition, Fame and Obsession: The Life of the Divine Michelangelo Buonarroti

A study day in three one hour parts: Exploring the life, work and personality of the man they called divine

We have all heard of the great Renaissance master Michelangelo, indeed the recent Michelangelo blockbuster sell-out exhibitions at the British Museum only served to confirm the continued interest in this artist. But how much do we really know about his life and work, how did he become such great artists, was he as famous in his own lifetime as he is now, was he rich in comparison to our modern times, and where and how did he learn his craft? How long did it take Michelangelo to fresco the Sistine Chapel ceiling, how did he do it, what was his relationship with the papacy and his contemporaries such as Raphael, indeed how real was the competition and struggle for dominance between artists?

This study day aims to provide the student with an insight into the life of the great Renaissance master and ultimately an understanding of his works through the historical and social context within which this artist worked. This will be achieved by looking at his early career and influences including his training and working methods, and the stylistic similarities or differences in his works. Emphasis will also be put on his reasons for the choices he made in mediums, such as chalk, charcoal, silverpoint and painting methods.

Part one: of the study day will begin by focusing on Michelangelo’s early life and tutelage in the workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio. We will also look at the methods taught in the Ghirlandaio workshop and how Michelangelo might have employed these. We will then examining his earliest commissions and how these might have shaped his future work, and also his panel paintings.

Part two: will look at Michelangelo’s life as a sculptor and the great projects that dominated this aspect of his work including looking at Michelangelo’s patrons and his major projects such as the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Part three: And finally in part three of the study day all the parts of Michelangelo’s life will be brought together by looking at his late presentation drawings, late sculptures, career and long life peripatetic existence which finally ended in Florence.

Short Bibliographic Reading List:
Bull, George (ed), Giorgio Vasari: Lives of the Artists, (Penguin Books, 1987) Vol: I & II

Cellini, Benvenuto, (Bull, George, trans & intro) Autobiography, (Penguin Classics, 1998)

Chapman, Hugo, Michelangelo – Drawings: Closer to the Master, (British Museum Press, 2005)

Dunkerton, Jill & Hirst, Michael, Making and Meaning: The Young Michelangelo (National Gallery Publications, 1994)

Levey, Michael, Florence: A Portrait (Pimlico, 1996)

Thompson Jnr, Daniel V, (trans), Cennino d’Andrea Cennini: The Craftsman’s Handbook – Il Libro dell’Arte (Dover Publications inc, 1960)

Download this Synopsis as a PDF

Back to Study Days