Buonarotti. I. Michel Angelo, an Italian painter, sculptor, and architect, born at the castle of Caprese in Tuscany, March 6, 1474, died in Rome, Feb. 17, 1563, cr, according to some authorities, in 1564. He was descended from the family of the counts of Canossa, and was allied to the imperial blood through Count Boniface of Canossa, who married a sister of Henry II. His father, Lodovico Leonardo Buonarotti Simone, was at the time of the artist's birth governor of Caprese and Chiusi, an important fortress in the commonwealth of Florence. Michel Angelo began early to justify the prediction of the astrologers that he should excel in those arts that delighted the sense, such as painting, sculpture, and architecture. At school he neglected his books for the stolen delight of drawing. A pupil of Do-menico Ghirlandaio, with whom he became intimate, procured for him studies, and introduced him to his master's house. In his first attempt at painting, made at this time, a copy from a print representing St. Anthony beaten by devils, he proved his love for art by coloring his animals as nearly as possible after natural objects.
His father, seeing how strong was the bent of his genius, reluctantly consented to place him under the care of Ghirlandaio as a pupil for three years, beginning April 1, 1488, and the master, an unusual thing, agreed to give him 24 florins for his services. When Lorenzo de' Medici opened a garden in Florence for the use of artists, filled with antique statues and busts, Michel Angelo instantly resorted thither; and Lorenzo was so much struck with his first attempt at sculpture, a copy in marble from an old mask of a laughing faun, that he took him under his own patronage, gave him rooms in his palace, and treated him like a son. There the youth studied with zeal and success until his patron's death in 1492. The son of Lorenzo invited him to continue at the palace, and he did so for a time; but missing the encouragement he had received before, and apprehending political troubles, he spent a little more than a year at Bologna. A successful imitation of an antique, a sleeping Cupid, which he made soon after his return to Florence, and which was bought by Cardinal San Giorgio for 200 ducats, was the occasion of his first visit to Rome, where he found liberal patrons, and executed several works, the most distinguished of which is the Pieta, now standing as an altarpiece in a chapel near the entrance of St. Peter's. The election of Pietro Soderini as gonfaloniere of Florence, through a change in the government, induced him to repair thither, and in 18 months he produced from an unshapely block of marble, which another sculptor was supposed to have spoiled, the colossal statue of David which stands in the piazza del Gran Duca. Other, works undertaken at this time are unfinished or unknown; but a painting, a holy family, believed until recently to be authentic, and his only authentic work in oils, is still in the Florentine gallery.
The gonfaloniere also commissioned him to paint a large historical picture for the end of a hall in the ducal palace, Leonardo da Vinci being-engaged to fill the other end. The subject chosen by Michel Angelo was taken from the Pisan wars: "Florentine Soldiers Surprised by the Enemy while Bathing." The sketch was greatly admired and was eagerly studied by the most eminent artists, but the cartoon alone was finished, and that was injured and finally destroyed from neglect. The picture was never commenced, the artist having left it to go to Rome by invitation of Julius II., the new pontiff, who wished to draw around him all the men of genius. The pope gave the artist an unlimited commission to build a mausoleum. The design was too magnificent for the church it was to adorn, and the pope, after some thought, determined to rebuild St. Peter's as a fit covering for his superb monument, which was to be completed according to the original design, and Michel Angelo passed eight months at Carrara procuring the marble.
A misunderstanding with the pope suspended this great work, which, though several times undertaken in after years, was never finished; the parts designed for it, among them the famous statue of Moses, were finally placed in the church of San Pietro in Vincolo. A reconciliation was effected at Bologna in 1506, and in 1508 the artist, after devoting 16 months to a colossal bronze statue of Julius, which the Bolognese afterward converted into a cannon, returned to Rome expecting to resume his labor upon the mausoleum; but the pope had changed his mind, and was now bent upon decorating with frescoes the walls and ceiling of the Sistine chapel, in honor of his uncle Sixtus TV., its builder. With extreme reluctance Michel Angelo consented to execute this undertaking in an untried branch of art. He was not a painter; Raphael could do it better; but the pope's request was a command; so he made the casting, constructed the scaffolding, sent away the fresco painters who had come from Florence, shut himself up alone, and finished the first picture on the ceiling, the "Deluge." The plaster was too wet, and a film obscured the picture; this was easily remedied, and the artist went on. Before the ceiling was half finished the impatient pope had the scaffolding removed that he might see the effect.
Notwithstanding this interruption, the whole ceiling was actually painted in 20 months. Michel Angelo was making studies for the other paintings when his patron died, Feb. 21, 1513, and the work was suspended. He would now gladly have resumed his labor upon the mausoleum under the patronage of the deceased pope's nephew, but Leo X. occupied him the whole nine years of his reign in the quarries of Pietra Santa getting out inferior marble for the facade of the church of San Lorenzo in Florence. On the death of Leo, his cousin Giuliano de' Medici (Clement VII.) employed him upon the Medici chapel in the same church, a work which consumed the 20 months of Adrian VI.'s reign, and a portion of Clement's. In 1527-'30 Michel Angelo displayed genius of yet another kind, as an engineer, being engaged in fortifying the city of Florence against assaults of the imperial troops. The city fell, and he restored himself to the pope's favor by promising to complete the two statues for the Medici chapel. Again he was anxious to resume the monument to Julius II., and again he was prevented by the pope, who ordered him to paint the walls of the Sistine chapel.
This was in 1533. After much studied delay on the part of the artist, who kept privately at work upon his Julian mausoleum, the " Last Judgment" was opened to the public on Christmas day, 1541, Paul III. being pontiff. He afterward completed two large paintings, the "Conversion of St. Paul" and the "Crucifixion of St. Peter," for the capella Paolina. In the reign of Paul III. this extraordinary man, 70 years old, entered upon a new department of art. San Gallo died in 1546, and he was summoned to succeed him as architect of St. Peter's. This office he held through five pontificates, accepting no emolument, and nearly all the time crossed and perplexed by the invidious plots of his enemies. With this stupendous work on his hands, he had also to carry forward the palazzo Farnese, construct a palace on the Capitoline hill, adorn the hill with antique statues, make a flight of steps to the church of the convent of Ara Cceli, rebuild an old bridge across the Tiber, and last and greatest, convert the baths of Diocletian into the magnificent church of Sta. Maria degli Angeli. Under Pius IV. St. Peter's was carried up as far as the dome, which was modelled in clay, and carefully executed to a scale in wood. But the architect had no time to direct it.
A slow fever attacked him in February, 1563, and in a few days put an end to his life, at the age of nearly 89 or 90. His funeral solemnities were honorable and imposing. His remains, after lying a short time in the church of SS. Apostoli, were conveyed to Florence, and deposited in a vault in the Santa Croce. - Michel Angelo applied himself to every branch of knowledge connected with his twin arts, painting and sculpture. His acquaintance with anatomy was great, and also with the science of mechanics. He was fond of Dante and Petrarch, and was himself a poet of a very high order, his sonnets being among the noblest in that kind of literature. Always a student, always dissatisfied with what he had done, many of his works were left unfinished; but his fragments have educated eminent men. In disposition he was proud and passionate, but high-minded, not greedy of gold, but princely in his generosity. His mind was full of great conceptions, for which he was ready to sacrifice and forego physical comforts.
Of his merits as an artist, it is enough to say that Raphael thanked God that he was born in the time of Michel Angelo Buonarotti. He was of middle stature, of a bony and rather spare frame, broad-shouldered, with a fine complexion, a square and rather projecting forehead, and small hazel eyes; his nose had been broken by a blow received in his youth. His poems were edited at Florence in 1623 by his nephew, Michel Angelo Buonarotti, and have since passed through many editions. English translations of his writings are contained in E. Taylor's "Michel Angelo considered as a Philosophic Poet" (London, 1846), and of many of his poems and letters in John S. Harford's " Life of Michel Angelo," etc. (2 vols., 1857). See also Vasari's "Lives;" Vita de Michelangelo Buonarotti, by Ascanio Condivi (Rome, 1553; new ed., Pisa, 1823); "Life of Michel Angelo," by Richard Duppa (London, 1806), containing a list of his works; Histoire de la peinture en Italie, by Marie Henri Bayle (2 vols., Paris, 1817); and Leben Michelangelo's, by Hermann Grimm (2 vols., Hanover, 1860-'63; 2d ed., 1866; English translation, 2 vols., London, 1865). II. Michel Angelo, an Italian poet, nephew of the preceding, born in Florence in 1568, died Jan. 11, 1646. He became a member of the academy della Crusca, assisted in editing its celebrated dictionary, and edited the poems of his uncle.
His principal works are two comedies, Lajlera and La Tancia, which were published in 1726 under the auspices of the abbe Salvini.