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A number of Michelangelo's works of painting, sculpture and architecture rank among the most famous in existence. His output in these fields was prodigious; given the sheer volume of surviving correspondence, sketches and reminiscences, he is the best-documented artist of the 16th century. He sculpted two of his best-known works, the Pietà and David, before the age of thirty. Despite holding a low opinion of painting, he also created two of the most influential frescoes in the history of Western art: the scenes from Genesis on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and The Last Judgment on its altar wall. His design of the Laurentian Library pioneered Mannerist architecture. At the age of 74, he succeeded Antonio da Sangallo the Younger as the architect of St. Peter's Basilica. He transformed the plan so that the western end was finished to his design, as was the dome, with some modification, after his death.

Michelangelo Buonarroti (full name Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni; * 6 March 1475 in Caprese, Tuscany; † 18 February 1564 in Rome), often just called Michelangelo, was an Italian painter, sculptor, builder (architect) and poet. He is considered one of the most important artists of the Italian High Renaissance and born in the Republic of Florence, who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. His artistic versatility was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with his rival, the fellow founder of the High Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci. Several scholars have described Michelangelo as the greatest artist of his age and even as the greatest artist of all time.




Marble, 174,0 x 195,0 x 69,0cm
 Basilica di San Pietro, Rome, Italy 
 © Luisa Ricciarini / Bridgeman Images

25 | Pietà, 1498-1500

Fresco, 230,0 x 480,0 cm
 Vatican Museums and Galleries, Vatican City, Italy
 © Bridgeman Images

26 | The Creation of Adam (Creazione di Adamo) Die Erschaffung Adams, 1508-1512



Michelangelo was the first Western artist whose biography was published while he was alive. In fact, two biographies were published during his lifetime. One of them, by Giorgio Vasari, proposed that Michelangelo's work transcended that of any artist living or dead, and was "supreme in not one art alone but in all three". In his lifetime, Michelangelo was often called Il Divino ("the divine one"). His contemporaries often admired his terribilità—his ability to instil a sense of awe. Attempts by subsequent artists to imitate Michelangelo's impassioned, highly personal style resulted in Mannerism, the next major movement in Western art after the High Renaissance.

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