The Life of Michael Angelo/Introduction
He was a Florentine citizen—of that Florence with sombre palaces, landform towers, dry undulating hills, sharply defined against a deep blue sky and covered with little black fusiform cypresses and a silver scarf of olivetrees which move like the waves of the sea—of that intensely elegant Florence where the pale, ironic face of Lorenzo de' Medici, and Machiavelli, with his large, cunning mouth, used to meet "La Primavera," and the chlorotic, pale golden-haired Venuses of Botticelli—of that feverish, proud and neurotic Florence which was the prey of every form of fanaticism, which was agitated by every form of religious or social hysteria, where every one was a free man and where every one was a tyrant, where it was so good to live, and where life was a hell—of that city of intelligent, intolerant, enthusiastic and malignant citizens, who possessed tongues that could sting and minds that were full of suspicion, who jealously spied one another and tore each other to pieces—that city where there was no room for the free mind of a Leonardo, where Botticelli ended in the deluded mysticism of a Scotch Puritan; where the goat-like visaged, ardent-eyed Savonarola ordered his monks to dance around a bonfire of works of art, and where, three years later, the pile was raised to bum the prophet.
Michael Angelo belonged to that city and to those days, with all their prejudices, passions, and feverish life.
Certainly he was not tender towards his compatriots. With his broad-chested, open-air genius, he despised their narrow artistic outlook, their pretentious intellect, their dull realism, their sentimentalism, and their morbid subtlety. He handled them roughly; but he loved them nevertheless. As regards his native place, he did not possess Leonardo's smiling indifference. When far from Florence he was consumed with home-sickness. During his whole life he wore himself out in vain efforts to live there. He was in Florence in the tragic hour of war; and it was his desire "to return there at least when dead, since he had been unable to do so when alive."
Old Florentine that he was, he was filled with the pride of his blood and his race. He was prouder of his lineage than of his genius even. He would not permit people to regard him as an artist. "I am not the sculptor Michael Angelo . . ." he said, "I am Michael Angelo Buonarroti. . . ."
He was mentally an aristocrat and possessed all the prejudices of his caste. He even went so far as to say that "art ought to be exercised by nobles, not by plebeians."
He had a religious, antique, almost barbarian conception of the family. He sacrificed everything to it and wished others to do the same. As he himself said, he would have "sold himself as a slave for its sake." Affection had little to do with this. He despised his brothers, who well merited his scorn. He despised his nephew—his heir. But, as representatives of his family, he respected them. We find these words continually recurring in his letters: "Our family ... la nostra gente ... uphold our family ... so that our family die not...."
He possessed all the superstitions and fanaticism of that rough, strong family. They were the dust from which his being was formed. But from that dust sprang the fire which purifies everything—genius.
He who does not believe in genius, who knows not what it is, let him look at Michael Angelo. Never before was man thus its prey. The genius which filled him did not seem to be of the same nature as he: it was like a conqueror who had rushed upon him and held him enslaved. His will in no way entered into it, and one might almost say the same of his mind and heart. It took the form of a frenzied enthusiasm—a formidable fife in a body and soul too weak to hold it.
Michael Angelo lived in a state of continual enthusiasm. The suffering caused by the excess of strength with which he was, as it were, inflated forced him to act, to act ceaselessly, without an hour's repose. "I am wearing myself out with work as never man did before," he wrote. "I think of nothing else save working day and night."
This unhealthy craving for activity caused him not only to accumulate tasks and accept more commissions than he could execute—it degenerated into a mania. He wished to sculpture mountains. When he had a monument to build he wasted years in quarries, selecting his blocks of marble and making roads along which to carry them. He wanted to be everything—engineer, workman, stone-cutter; to do everything himself—build palaces and churches with no other aid than his own. His life resembled that of a convict. He did not grant himself even the time for eating and sleeping. In his letters we are continually coming across the following lamentable refrain:
“I have hardly time to eat … I have no time to eat … For the past twelve years I have been ruining my body with fatigue. I stand in need of necessaries … I am without a penny. I am naked. I suffer a thousand ills … I live in a state of poverty and suffering … I struggle with poverty.”
Michael Angelo’s poverty was imaginary. He was wealthy—he became, indeed, very wealthy. But what use did he make of his riches? He lived like a poor man, harnessed to his task like a horse to a millstone. No one could understand why he thus tortured himself. No one could understand that it was out of his power not to torture himself—that it was a necessity for him. Even his father—who had many of his son’s traits—reproached him.
“Your brother tells me that you live with great economy and even in a wretched manner. Economy is good, but poverty is bad—it is a vice which displeases both God and man and will do harm to your soul and your body. As long as you are young, things will go fairly smoothly; but when you are no longer so, sicknesses and infirmities, which have had their origin in that bad and wretched life, will make their appearance. Avoid poverty, live with moderation, mind you do not stand in need of necessaries, and beware of excess of work."
But counsel was ever without avail: never would he consent to treat himself in a more humane manner. A little bread and wine sufficed to nourish him. Barely a few hours were devoted to sleep. When at Bologna, occupied with the bronze statue of Julius II., he had only one bed for himself and his three assistants. He lay down to rest fully dressed and booted. On one occasion his legs swelled so much that his boots had to be cut, and in removing them the skin of his limbs came with them.
As a result of this terrible life he was, as his father had prophesied, constantly ill. We find fourteen to fifteen serious illnesses mentioned in his letters. More than once fever brought him near to death's door. He suffered in his eyes, teeth, head, and heart. He was racked with neuralgia, especially when he had retired to rest, and thus sleep had become a torture to him. He became prematurely old. At forty-two years of age he had a sense of his decrepitude. At forty-eight he wrote that for every day he worked he had to rest four. He obstinately refused to accept the advice of a doctor.
His mind, even more than his body, suffered the consequences of this terrible life of work. Pessimism—a hereditary evil with him—consumed him. When in his youth he wore himself out in reassuring his father, who seems, at times, to have suffered from attacks of the mania of persecution. But Michael Angelo himself more affected than the one he sought to console. His ceaseless activity and overwhelming fatigue delivered him over without defence to all the aberrations of a mind which was filled with suspicions. He distrusted both his friends and his enemies. He distrusted his parents, his brothers, and his adopted son, suspecting that they were impatiently waiting for his death.
Everything disquieted him. Even the members of his own family made a mockery of his eternal disquietude. As he himself said, he lived "in a state of melancholy, or rather of madness." By dint of much suffering he ended by finding a sort of bitter pleasure in pain:
"E piu mi giova dove piu mi nuoce."
"La mia allegrez' è la maninconia."
No being was ever less fitted for experiencing joy and better fitted for sorrow. It was sorrow alone which he saw—sorrow alone which he felt in the immense universe. The whole pessimism of the world is summed up in this sublimely unjust cry of despair:
"Mille placer non vaglion un tormento!"
"His devouring energy," says Condivi, "almost entirely separated him from all human society." He stood alone. He hated and was hated. He loved but was not loved in return. He was admired and feared. In the end he inspired a religious respect. He dominated his century. He was then assuaged a little. He saw men from above, and they saw him from below. But never was he two men in one. Never did he know repose and the happiness which is accorded to the humblest of beings—that of being able, for one minute of his life, to fall asleep in the affection of another. A woman's love was refused him. Alone, for a moment, there shone in that solitary sky the cold, pure star of the friendship of Vittoria Colonna. Everywhere around was the blackness of night, traversed by the glowing meteors of his thought: his desire and delirious dreams. Never did Beethoven know such a night as that. The reason is that this night was in Michael Angelo's very heart. Beethoven—naturally gay and inspiring after joy—was sad through the fault of the world. Michael Angelo's sadness, which provoked fear in men and made all instinctively flee, was part and parcel of his being.
But this was nothing. The ill consisted not in being alone but in being alone with himself, in being unable to live with himself, in not being master of himself, in disowning, combating and destroying himself. His genius was coupled with a soul which betrayed it. People sometimes speak of the fatality which relentlessly followed in his footsteps and prevented him carrying out any of his great projects. This fatality was himself. The secret of his misfortunes, that which explains the whole tragedy of his life (and this is what people have least seen or least dared to see), was his lack of will-power and weakness of character.He was irresolute in art, in politics, in all his actions and in all his thoughts. Between two works, two projects, or two lines of conduct he was never able to choose. The history of the monument to Julius II., the façade of San Lorenzo, and the tombs of the Medici is proof of this. He began and began again, but never reached the end. He had barely made his choice than he began to doubt about it. At the end of his life he completed nothing: everything disgusted him. It has been alleged that his tasks were imposed upon him, and the responsibility of this perpetual wavering between one project and another has been laid on the shoulders of his masters. People forget that his masters had no means
TOMB OF GIULIANO DE' MEDICI
In the Medici Chapel, San Lorenzo, Florence
He was weak. He was weak in all ways: through virtue and through timidity. He was weak through conscience. He tormented himself with a thousand scruples which a more energetic nature would have rejected. Through an exaggerated sense of responsibility he felt himself obliged to undertake mediocre tasks which any foreman could have done better. He knew neither how to keep his engagements nor to forget them.
He was weak through prudence and through fear. The man whom Julius II. called “the terrible”—“il terribile”—Vasari styles as “prudent”—too prudent; and he “who frightened everybody, even the Popes,” had a fear of every one. He was weak with princes. And yet, who despised more than he did those who were weak with princes—“the pack-donkeys of princes,” as he called them? He wished to flee from the Popes, but he remained and obeyed. He tolerated insulting letters from his masters, and replied to them humbly. At times he revolted and spoke up proudly, but he always gave way. Up to the day of his death he disputed, without strength for struggling. Clement VII., who—contrary to current opinion—was, of all the Popes, the one who showed most kindness towards him, knew his weakness and pitied him.
In love he was wanting in all sense of dignity. He humiliated himself in the presence of rogues such as Febo di Poggio. He treated an amiable but mediocre person like Tommaso de’ Cavalieri as a “powerful genius.”
Love, at any rate, makes these weaknesses touching. But they are nothing less than sadly painful—one dare not say shameful—when they are inspired by fear. He was seized, from time to time, with sudden terrors, and would then, tracked by fear, flee from one end of Italy to the other. In 1494, terrified by a vision, he fled from Florence. He fled again in 1529 when Florence, with the defence of which he was charged, was besieged. He went as far as Venice and was on the point of escaping to France. Later he became ashamed of this mistake and repaired it by returning to the besieged city, where he did his duty until the end of the siege. But when Florence was taken, and proscription reigned, how weak and trembling he was! He even went so far as to pay court to Valori, the proscriber, who had just put his friend, the noble Battista della Palla, to death. Alas! He even went so far as disowning his friends the banished Florentines.
He was frightened and mortally ashamed of his fear. He despised himself to such an extent that he fell ill. He wished to die, and it was believed that he was going to do so.
But he could not die. A desperate force daily sprang up within him and kept him alive in order that he might suffer the more. If he could only, at least, have dragged himself from action! But that was forbidden him. He could not do without acting. He acted. It was necessary for him to act. He acted?—Rather was he acted upon, carried away, like one of the damned souls of Dante, by the cyclone of his violent and contradictory passions.
How he must have suffered!
“Oilme, oilme, pur reiterando
He addressed despairing appeals to God:
“… O Dio, o Dio, o Dio!
The reason why he craved for death was that he saw it would bring an end to his maddening slavery. With what envy he spoke of those who were dead!
“You no longer feel the fear of a change of being and desire … The course of the hours lays not violent hands upon you; necessity and chance guide not your steps … I can hardly write without envy.”
To die! To be no longer! No longer to be oneself! To break away from the tyranny of things! To escape from the hallucination of oneself!
“Ah! grant; oh! grant that I no longer return to myself.”
I can hear that tragic cry issuing from the sorrowful face whose anxious eyes still look at us in the Museum of the Capitol.
He was of medium stature, broad-shouldered, strongly built and muscular. His body deformed by work, he walked with raised head, hollowed out back and protruding stomach. So do we see him in a portrait by Francis of Holland—a portrait in which he is represented upright, in profile and dressed in black: a Roman cloak over his shoulders, a piece of stuff on his head, and, on the top of it, well pulled down, a large black felt hat. He had a round skull, a square forehead, swollen over the eyes and lined with wrinkles. His hair was black, by no means thick, dishevelled and becurled. His small, sad, strong eyes were horn-coloured, variable, and speckled with yellow and blue. His big, straight nose, with a bump in the middle, had been broken by a blow from Torrigiani’s fist. He had deep lines from the nostrils to the corners of the lips. His mouth was delicate, with the lower lip slightly protruding. Scanty side-whiskers and a somewhat thin, cloven, faunlike beard, some four or five inches long, enframed his hollow cheeks and protruding cheek-bones.
Sadness and indecision dominated in the ensemble of his physiognomy. It was indeed a face of the days of Tasso—an anxious face, consumed by doubts. His poignant eyes inspired and called for compassion.
Do not let us be sparing with it. Let us hold out to him the love to which he aspired the whole of his life and which was refused him. He experienced the greatest misfortunes which can fall to the lot of man. He saw his country in bondage. He saw Italy delivered for centuries into the hands of barbarians. He saw the death of liberty. He saw those whom he loved disappear one after the other. One after the other he saw all the luminaries of art pass away.
The last of them all, he remained alone in the gathering night. And, on the threshold of death, when he looked behind him, he had not even the consolation of saying that he had accomplished everything he ought, everything he might have done. His life seemed to him to have been wasted. It had been without joy—in vain. In vain he had sacrificed it to the idol of art.
The preternatural work to which he had been condemned during ninety years of life, without a day’s repose or a day of real life, had not even served for the carrying out of a single one of his great projects. Not one of his great works—those which he held most dear—was completed. The irony of fate ordained that this sculptor should only succeed in completing his paintings, which were executed against his real desire. Among his big undertakings, which had alternately produced so many proud hopes and mental sufferings, some—such as the Cartoon of Pisa and the bronze statue of Julius II.—were destroyed during his lifetime; whilst others—such as the mausoleum of Julius II. and the Medici Chapel—piteously failed: caricatures of his thought.
In the "Commentaries" of the sculptor Ghiberti there is related the story of a poor German goldsmith, in the service of the Duke of Anjou, "who was the equal of the sculptors of Ancient Greece, and who, at the end of his days, saw all the work to which he had devoted his life destroyed. He then saw that all his labour had been in vain, and, throwing himself on his knees, he cried: 'O Lord, Master of heaven and earth, Thou who makest all things, allow me no longer to stray afield and follow other than Thee. Have pity on me!' And immediately he gave all he possessed to the poor, retired to a hermitage and died. …"
Like the poor German goldsmith, Michael Angelo, having reached the end of his life, bitterly contemplated his useless efforts, his uncompleted, destroyed and unaccomplished works.
Then, he abdicated. The pride of the Renaissance, the magnificent pride of the free and sovereign soul of the universe took refuge with him "in that divine love which, in receiving us, opens its arms upon the Cross."
“… Volta a quell’ amor divino
The fruitful cry of the “Ode to Joy” was not uttered. Until his last breath it was an Ode to Sorrow and to Death which delivers. The conquest was complete.
Such was one of the world’s conquerors. We who enjoy the works of his genius do so in the same manner as we enjoy the conquests of our ancestors: we make no reckoning of the blood which they have cost.
“Non vi si pensa
My desire has been to display this blood to the eyes of all, to wave above our heads the red standard of heroes.
- "From time to time I fall into a state of great melancholy, as happens to those who are far from their home." (Letter of August 19, 1497, Rome.)
- He was thinking of himself when he made his friend, Cecchino dei Bracci, one of the banished Florentines who lived in Rome, say: "Death is dear to me, since I shall owe it the happiness of returning to my native place, which was closed to me whilst I was alive." ("Poems of Michael Angelo," Carl Frey's edition, Ixxiii. 24.)
The Buonarroti Simoni, natives of Settignano, are mentioned in the Florentine chronicles from the twelfth century, and Michael Angelo was well aware of this. He knew hisgenealogy. "We are citizens of the noblest race," he wrote in a letter of December 1546, to his nephew Leonardo. He became indignant at the idea that his nephew should think of joining the ranks of the nobility. "You show a lack of self-respect," he said. "Everyone knows that we belong to the old burgesses of Florence, and are as noble as any one." (February 1549.) He endeavored to restore his family's fallen fortunes, to revive their old name of Simoni, and to establish a patrician house in Florence. But his plans were ever frustrated by his brothers' mediocrity. He blushed to think that one of them (Sigismondo) guided a plough and lived the life of a peasant. In 1520, Count Alessandro of Canossa wrote to him to say that in his family archives he had discovered the proof that they were related. The information was inaccurate, but Michael Angelo believed it, and wished to purchase the château of Canossa, the alleged cradle of his family. His biographer, Condivi, following his indications, included among his ancestors Beatrice, the sister of Henri II., and the great Comtesse Mathilde.
In 1515, on the occasion of the visit of Leo X. to Florence, Buonarroto, Michael Angelo's brother, was appointed comes palatinus, and the Buonarroti received the right to add to their arms the palla of the Medici, with three lilies and the Pope's monogram.
- "I have never, either as a painter or a sculptor," he continues, "made a trade of my art. I have always exercised it for the honour of my family." (Letter to Leonardo, May 2, 1548.)
- Letter to his father, August 19, 1497. He was not "emancipated" by his father until March 13, 1508, at the age of thirty-three. (Official certificate registered on the following March 28.)
- Letters of 1507, 1509, 1512, 1513, 1525, and 1547.
- After his death, there was found, at his house in Rome, from 7000 to 8000 gold ducats, equivalent to £16,000 to £20,000 of our money. Moreover, Vasari says that he had already given his nephew 7000 crowns, and his servant, Urbino, 2000. He had large sums invested in Florence. The Denunzia de’ beni for 1534 shows that he then possessed six houses and seven estates in Florence, Settignano, Rovezzano, Stradello, San Stefano de Pozzolatico, and other places. He had a mania for possessing land, and was continually buying, as in 1505, 1506, 1512, 1515, 1517, 1518, 1519, 1520, &c. A trait this, transmitted from peasant ancestors. However, though he amassed wealth, it was not for himself that he did it; he spent his riches on others and deprived himself of everything.
- Some advice concerning hygiene, which shows the barbarousness of the times, follows. "Above all, take care of your head, keep yourself moderately warm, and never wash yourself. Have yourself cleaned, and never wash yourself." (Letters of December 19, 1500.)
- Letters, 1506.
- In September 1517, at the time he was working on the façade of San Lorenzo and the statue of Christ, in the Church of S. Maria Sopra Minerva, in Rome, he was "sick unto death." In the following year and in the same month, when at the Seravezza quarries, he fell ill through overwork and worry. He had a fresh illness in 1520, at the time of the death of Raphael. At the end of 1521, a friend, Leonardo Sellajo, congratulated him "on recovering from an illness from which few recover." In June 1531, after the capture of Florence, he could neither sleep nor eat: his head and heart were ailing; and he continued in this state until the end of the year, until his friends concluded was he was doomed. In 1539 he fell from his scaffolding at the Sistine and broke his leg. In June 1544 he had a very serious attack of fever, and was nursed by his friend, Luigi del Riccio, at the house of the Strozzi, in Florence. In December 1545 and January 1546 he had a dangerous recurrence of this same fever, which left him in a very weak state. Riccio had again nursed him at the Strozzi's. In March 1549 he suffered cruelly from stone. In July 1555 he was tortured by gout. In July 1559 he was again suffering from stone and pains of all sorts, and was in a very weak condition. And in August 1561 he had an attack, "falling into unconsciousness, with convulsive movements."
- Febbre, fianchi dolor', morbi ochi e denti." (Poems, lxxxii.)
- July 1517. (Letter written from Carrara to Domenico Buoninsegui.)
- July 1523. (Letter to Bart. Angiolini.)
- In his letters to his father we are continually finding such phrases as the following: "Do not be uneasy…" (Spring 1509.) "It hurts me to think that you live in such a state of anguish; I beg and pray of you to think of this no longer." (January 27, 1509.) "Do not frighten yourself; be not in the slightest degree sad." (September 15, 1509.) Old Buonarroti appears to have suffered, like his son, from fits of terror. In 1521 (as we shall read later), he suddenly fled from his own house, crying that his son had driven him forth.
- "In the sweetness of a perfect friendship, a menace to honour and life is often hid…" (Sonnet lxxiv. to his friend, Luigi del Riccio, who had just saved him from a serious illness, 1546.) See the fine letter of justification which his faithful friend, Tommaso de' Cavalieri, whom he had unjustly suspected, wrote to him on November 15, 1561: "I am more than certain that I have never offended you, but you are too inclined to put your trust in those whom you ought to believe the least…"
- "I live in a continual state of distrust…Place not your confidence in any one; sleep with your eyes open…."
- Letters of September and October 1515 to his brother Buonarroti: "…Do not laugh at what I write you…One ought not to mock at any one. In these days it does no harm to live in fear and disquietude for one's soul and body…It is good at all times to be disquieted….
- He often, in his letters, calls himself: "melancholy and mad," "old and mad," "mad and wicked." But elsewhere, having been reproached for his folly, he defends himself and alleges "that it never harmed any one but himself."
- "That which hurts me most pleases me the most." (Poems, xlii.)
"Che degli amanti è men felicc stato
Quelle ove 'l gran desir gran copia affrena
C'una miseria, di speranza piena."
"The fulness of pleasure which extinguishes desire is, to him who loves, less blissful than misery, which is full of hope." (Sonnet cix., 48.)
- "Everything saddens me," he wrote…. "Even virtue, on account of its too short duration, overwhelms and oppresses my soul no less than evil itself."
- "Melancholy—that is my joy." (Poems, lxxxi.)
- "A thousand joys are not as good as a single torment." (Poems, lxxxiv.)
- See the years which he spent in the Seravezza quarries for the façade of San Lorenzo.
- As in the case of the statue of Christ for the Church of S. Maria Sopra Minerva, the order for which he had accepted in 1514 and which he lamented was not yet begun in 1518. “I am dying with shame … I have the air of being a thief.” As in the case, also, of the Piccolomini Chapel, in Sienna, for which, in 1501, he had signed a contract stipulating that he would deliver his work in three years. In 1561, sixty years later, he was still tormenting himself for not having kept his engagement.
- “Facte paura a ognuno insino a’ papi” Sebastiano del Piombo wrote to him on October 27, 1520.
- Conversation with Vasari.
- As in 1534, when he wished to flee from Paul III. and ended by allowing himself to be chained to his task.
- Such as the humiliating letter from Cardinal Julius de’ Medici (the future Clement VII.), on February 2, 1518, in which he expresses the suspicion that Michael Angelo has been bribed by the Carrarais. Michael Angelo bends the knee and replies “that the only thing in the world he cares for is to please him.”
- See his letters and those which he had written by Sebastiano del Piombo after the taking of Florence. He inquires after his health and troubles. In 1531 he published a brief to defend him against the importunities of those who abused his kindness.
- Compare Michael Angelo’s humble letter to Febo, of December 1533, to Febo’s begging and vulgar reply of January 1534.
- “… If I do not possess the art of navigating on the sea of your powerful genius, you will excuse and not despise me, because I cannot compare myself to you. He who is unique in everything can have no equal.” (Michael Angelo to Tommaso de’ Cavalieri, January 1, 1533.)
- “… Up to the present I have abstained from speaking or having intercourse with the banished. I shall take still greater care in the future … I speak to nobody. Above all, I do not speak with Florentines. If I am saluted in the street I cannot do anything else, however, than reply in a friendly manner. But I pass on. If I knew who the banished Florentines were I should respond in no manner whatsoever …” (Letter from Rome, in 1548, to his nephew Leonardo, who had informed him that he was accused in Florence of having relations with the banished, against whom Cosmo II. had just issued a very severe edict.)
He went much further than this. He disavowed the hospitality which, as a sick man, he had received at the Strozzi’s:
“As to the reproach which they make against me, namely, that during my illness I was received and nursed at the house of the Strozzi, I consider that I was not under their roof, but in the room of Luigi del Riccio, who was much attached to me.” (Luigi del Riccio was in the service of the Strozzi.) There was so little doubt that Michael Angelo had been the guest, not of Riccio, but of the Strozzi that he himself, two years before, had sent “The Two Slaves” (now in the Louvre) to Roberto Strozzi, in order to thank him for his hospitality.
- In 1531, after the taking of Florence, his submission to Clement VII. and his advances towards Valori.
- “Woe is me! Woe is me! In all my past I find not a single day which I can call my own!” (Poems, xlix. Probably written about 1532).
- “Oh, God! oh, God! oh, God! Who can do more for me than I myself?” (Poems, vi. Between 1504 and 1511).
Ne tem’ or piu cangiar vita ne voglia,
Che quasi senza invidia non lo scrivo …
L’oro distinte a voi non fanno forza,
Case o necessita non vi conduce …
(Poems, lviii. On the death of his father, 1534.)
- “De fate, c’a me stesso piu non torni.” (Poems, cxxxv. On the death of his father, 1534.)
- The description which follows is inspired by various portraits of Michael Angelo, especially by that of Marcello Venusti at the Capitol, by Francis of Holland’s engraving, which dates from 1538-1539, and by that of Guilio Bonasoni, which is of Use has also been made of Condivi’s account of 1553. His disciple and friend, Daniello da Volterra, and his servant, Antonio del Franzese, made several busts of him after his death.
- Thus did those who opened his coffin in 1564, when his body was brought from Rome to Florence, still find him. He appeared to be asleep, with his felt hat on his head and his spurred boots on his feet.
- Condivi. Venusti’s portrait represents them as fairly large.
- About 1490-1492.
“… L’affectuosa fantasia,
Che l’arte mi fece idol’ e monarca, …”
(Poems, cxlvii. Between 1555 and 1556.)
“Impassioned illusion, which made me make art into an idol and a monarch …”
- He called himself a "sculptor," not a "painter." "To-day," he wrote on March 10, 1508, "I, Michael Angelo, sculptor, began the painting of the Chapel (Sistine)." "This is not my profession," he wrote a year later … "I am uselessly wasting my time." (January 27, 1509.) He never varied on this point.
- Poems, cxlvii.
- Dante: “La Divina Commèdia.” (Paradise, xxix. 91.)