This post is part of a series where we explore what it would be like if famous historical figures had Twitter accounts. The tweets are invented by us and the accounts aren’t real. It’s funny though.
Born in Caprese, Italy to a multi-generational banking family, Michelangelo went to Florence, Italy to study grammar. He didn’t have much interest in traditional schooling, however, and much preferred to copy the paintings of the masters as he sought out the company of painters.
At age 13, Michelangelo was apprenticed to master painter, Ghirlandaio. Within a year, Michelangelo’s father convinced Ghirlandaio to pay Michelangelo as an artist, which was just as rare then as it would be today. #thanksdad
Not longer after, Lorenzo de’ Medici, of the rich and famous Medici family, asked Ghirlandaio to send his two best pupils to the Humanist academy that Lorenzo had founded. Here, many of the philosophers of the day influenced Michelangelo’s art and outlook. While he was in school, Michelangelo was commissioned to sculpt two different reliefs (sculptures in the wall of a church, tomb, etc. that looked raised off the wall), Madonna of the Steps, and Battle of the Centaurs.
Also while at school, Michelangelo’s nose was broken when his fellow pupil, Pietro Torrigiano, stuck him, causing the disfiguration seen in many portraits of Michelangelo thereafter.
Drama, Drama, Drama
Some political unrest caused the Medici’s to be expelled from Florence and Michelangelo left with them – traveling first to Venice, and then settling in Bologna for a while where he worked on a few reliefs for the Shrine of St. Dominic, which was in a church dedicated to the same saint.
Michelangelo then traveled back to Florence for a short time where he worked on a few sculptures, namely, St. John the Baptist which was then pawned off as an ancient sculpture to a Cardinal in Rome. The Cardinal eventually realized that the piece was a fake, but liked the work so much that he invited Michelangelo to Rome to work on a sculpture.
At age 24, upon the commission of a French Cardinal, Michelangelo sculpted the Pieta, which was quickly regarded as a masterpiece.
Back to Florence
In 1499, Michelangelo was able to return to Florence, where he was asked to resume sculpting a work abandoned 40 years previous by Agustino di Duccio. This work was none other than the David which eventually stood on the Piazza della Signoria. It is now in the Academia and a replica stands in its place.
Some of the stories surrounding this sculpture would indicate that the reason it had initially been abandoned was because the marble was too flawed to make a decent sculpture. Eventually the church was worried about it being a waste of money and requested that Michelangelo try his hand at it. The David is the result.
The new pope in 1505, Julius II, invited Michelangelo to Rome to build his tomb. Michelangelo was frequently interrupted while working on the Pope’s tomb, he worked on it for a total of 40 years, and even still, it was never finished quite to his liking. It was during this time that he was commissioned (also by Pope Julius II) to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo didn’t consider himself much of a painter, but when the Pope asks, it’s hard to say no. He was originally supposed to paint the Twelve Apostles around the edges of the ceiling and fill it with ornamentation in the center, but he convinced the Pope to give him free artistic reign and eventually painted a much more larger and detailed scheme that represents much of the Catholic doctrine. Even though Michelangelo didn’t consider himself much of a painter, the Sistine Chapel ceiling houses what have become some of the most iconic images of all time.
There was some political unrest in Florence that resulted in the Medici’s being stripped of their power and gaining it back. When Alessandro Medici gained power, he made it clear to Michelangelo that he didn’t like him. Afraid for his life, Michelangelo left Florence and fled to Rome.
When In Rome…
While he was living in Rome, Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Clement VII to paint The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel. While he was working on that painting (which eventually took him seven years to complete), he was appointed architect over St. Peter’s Basilica. He passed away before it was completed.
Michelangelo was known well in his own lifetime for his artistic mastery, both as a painter and sculptor. His cantankerous personality sometimes made it hard to work with him, but his ability as an artist always paid off. Michelangelo left some of the most iconic works in his wake.
Want to see more historical Twitter accounts? Check out what would happen if Alexander the Great had Twitter.