Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), better known as just Michelangelo, was a 15th-16th century Italian painter, sculptor and architect.
He is widely considered to be an artistic genius in all crafts and together with Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael Sanzio one of the greatest masters of The Renaissance. Already a high profile and sought after celebrity during his lifetime, he became the first artist to have his biography published while he was still alive.
David, the Pietà, Moses and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican count among his most famous works. The latter two were ordered by Pope Julius II among a number of ambitious projects he entrusted Michelangelo with, and are constantly referenced and parodied in popular culture — see Sistine Steal and Pietà Plagiarism. Michelangelo was also highly regarded as an architect, designing St. Peter's Basilica, but the project would only be finished after his death.
Probably unsurprising given the body of his works, Michelangelo was a devout Catholic. According to his apprentice, Ascanio Condivi, Michelangelo was such practically ascetic: he ate as was necessary and without pleasure. A biographer, Paolo Giovio, said he lived so squalidly that his pupils gained no prominence from associating with him - which makes a lot of sense considering he was a rather solitary person.
Not unlike Leonardo da Vinci, the topic of his sexuality is of much debate: His aforementioned apprentice claimed he was like a monk in his chastity, so his poetry is most commonly studied for this topic of which there is a fair amount of expressing love that are targeted toward men (the seemingly homoerotic nature of them even led his grandnephew to changing the poems' pronouns to female). Tommaso dei Cavalieri was one who reciprocated his passion and the two remained devoted to each other until Michelangelo's death. Despite all this, it would probably be remiss to simply describe Michelangelo as being homosexual since Vittoria Colonna was a woman who also had a similar mutual devotion to Michelangelo with the two regularly exchanging sonnets until she died and there doesn't seem to be much to suggest any of Michelangelo's relationships were anything more than platonic.
- Medici Chapels
- Sistine Chapel (ceiling paintings and The Last Judgment)
Michelangelo's work provides examples of:
- Absurdly Youthful Mother: The Virgin Mary in the Pietà hardly looks like a middle-aged widow and instead appears as youthful and unwrinkled as her 33-year old son. The dissonance between her appearance and her age is intentional, since Mary's unusual external beauty points to her internally immaculate soul.
- The Alcoholic: The Bacchus makes it clear the titular god is smashed by capturing him with his goblet raised to the heavens, his eyes rolled into his skull, and his head nearly tilted off. The guy is even holding the fur of a tiger, an animal classically synonymous with wine-making grapes. His satyr companion seems pretty undisturbed by his master's inebriation, hinting that this is Bacchus's default state.
- Angelic Beauty:
- His sculpture of an Angel in the Basilica of San Domenico is a child whose hair and wings are so well-ordered that not a feather or hair pop out of place. The whole body of the angel is ordered to make it pleasant to look at, just as the angel's whole being has been ordered to perfection by God.
- The David is representing the king's saintliness rather than his literal physical appearance, and as such David is a flawless man deep in thought and full of life. The tell that the sculpture shows his spiritual status as a foreshadowing of Christ is that his penis is uncircumcised despite being a Jewish king.
- The dead Christ shows no signs of death, with even his famous wounds reduced to nail marks. Instead, Christ looks like a beautiful man fully alive, with luscious hair, healthy veins flowing down his strong arms, and an expression of serenity that shows the beatitude he shares with the Father and the Holy Ghost as one of the Holy Trinity.
- The Virgin Mary doesn't have a wrinkle on her despite the 33-year old son she holds in her arm. She retains all the youthful beauty of a virgin, not only because she is one, but because her Immaculate Conception and mothership of God have made her closer to the source of all life and goodness than any other, allowing the beauty of Paradise to shine in her more than any born of Eve.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Michelangelo decorated the Medici tombs in the Sagrestia Nuova with four human sculptures each representing one time of the day: Dawn, Day, Dusk, and Night.
- As the Good Book Says...: Many of his works are based on narratives from The Bible, most notably David, The Last Judgement, and The Creation of Adam.
- Bloodless Carnage: Scourges and crucifixions generally leave bruises, cuts, and spilled blood all over whoever is subjected to them, but Jesus' corpse from the Pietà is completely clean and unmarked despite having just been impaled through the side and taken off his crucifix. The only wounds visible are the holes on Christ's hands and feet, but even then they're really small. Although it doesn't look much like Jesus got crucified, it does get across his whole divine perfection shtick.
- Bowdlerize: Depicted Christ, the Virgin Mary and other biblical characters naked, which caused controversy in some devout Christian circles, but the Pope refused to add any changes. Later Popes, however, allowed other painters to cover them up. When restoration efforts were undertaken in the 2000s, the additions were removed. In the USA and other very religious countries, however, some prudish people have censored David's penis in media appearances.
- Bystander Syndrome: The Crucifixion of Saint Peter features plenty of on-lookers and passer-byes who seem mildly shocked at Peter's inverted execution, but don't seem moved to do much more than point it out and go about their day.
- Crucial Cross: Played With in The Crucifixion of Saint Peter, where St. Peter does maintain his composure and faith in Christ even as the Romans begin his execution on the cross. However, Peter's cross is flipped upside-down to show that Peter, Humble Hero that he is, does not equate his sacrifice with that of Jesus.
- Dirt Forcefield: In the Pietà, Jesus' body is spotless despite having spent the previous day dragging a large slab of wood up a hill, hanging naked on that hill, and then being taken down to be buried.
- Due to the Dead: Mary never touches Jesus' skin in the Pietà, but rather holds him with clothe out of respect for His sacred corpse.
- Eyes Do Not Belong There: One of the bizarre demons in The Torment of Saint Anthony has a pair of eyes on its butt that form an upside-down face with the mouth that's also down there.
- First-Name Basis: If he ever appears in fiction, he will be referred to as Michelangelo. Mainly because "Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni" is a mouthful to say.
- Flying Seafood Special: One of the flying demons in The Torment of St. Anthony has no wings and seems to be swimming into the air by virtue of its fishy tail.
- Follow the Leader: Set the standards in painting, sculpting, and architecture for countless artists to follow.
- Good Wings, Evil Wings:
- The Angel in the Basilica of Saint Dominic is as innocent as his fluffy dove wings are white.
- The demons in The Torment of Saint Anthony all have insane looking wings that look like they're made of black leather, green moss, or red reeds. Without exception, they all indicate wickedness and decay.
- Hellfire: A weird fish-demon in The Torment of Saint Anthony is seen beating the saint with a flame-ridden stick that calls to mind the fires of Hell.
- Heroic Sacrifice: The Crucifixion of Saint Peter shows the saint getting executed for refusing to stop spreading the good news. Judging by the look on his face, he remains defiant in his faith.
- Horned Humanoid: The sculpture of Moses in Pope Julius II's tomb shows the prophet with two tiny horns coming out of his head, an attribute the Latin translation of the Book of Exodus ascribes to Moses after his encounter with God.note
- Impaled Palm: As one would expect in The Crucifixion of Saint Peter, Peter has his hands nailed to a cross, with nary a drop of blood nor any sign of pain on the saint's face.
- Kneel Before Zod: The titular The Genius of Victory places his knee on the back of an old man, forcing him to kneel before Victory in a show of deference.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The man himself in The Crucifixion of Saint Peter is staring angrily out of the portrait, as if to scold the audience for not appreciating his sacrifice.
- Light 'em Up: In The Conversion of Saul, Christ is shown shooting a beam of holy light from a huge mass behind him to blind Saul.
- Mad Artist: Michelangelo had his eccentricities. He never changed clothing, even when he slept. He felt indifferent to eating and drinking and preferred living as a poor man. This attitude allowed him to spend much more time on his craft.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The demons from The Torment of St. Anthony are a bunch of chaotic, humanoid hybrids with weird traits fish scales, primate arms, elephant trunks, and porcupine spikes spread among them. The most common trait is their traditionally demonic bat wings.
- Mr. Fanservice: Many men in his works have idealized nude bodies, providing a homoerotic atmosphere.
- Nerves of Steel: The Torment of St. Anthony shows an old man being thrown into the air by a horde of demons that scratching at him, beating him with clubs and yelling while said geezer displays about a tenth of an emotion. As the stories go, St. Anthony is so confident in God's love that not even beatings from flying fish-monsters can panic him.
- Night and Day Duo: Sculpted Anthropomorphic Personifications of Day and Night to adorn the tomb of Giuliano de' Medici. On the left, Night is shown, alongside its owl and sleep mask, holding its head up as her eyes close from exhaustion. On the right, Day is seen with his back towards the audience as he peaks his head over his muscular body to stare at the viewer.
- Our Angels Are Different:
- Michelangelo's angels tend to be hyper-masculine nudes constantly in Flight. They're seen lifting holy relics like the Cross and victory laurels into Heaven in The Last Judgement and they're also flanking around Jesus like an army in the The Conversion of Saul.
- In the Basilica of Saint Dominic, Michelangelo has a traditional sculpture of an angel that looks like a young boy except for his fluffy marble-white wings.
- Our Centaurs Are Different: One of Michelangelo's first works was the Battle of the Centaurs, based on an incident from Classical Mythology. The battle is so crowded that its difficult to tell the centaurs from the humans, with the only easy indicator being that centaurs are generally standing above bodies that have been trampled over in the fighting.
- Outliving One's Offspring: The Pietà shows Mary cradling the body of her infant son with a face sculpted to put her motherly grief on full display.
- Passion Play: The Pietà depicts a moment from Christ's journey to the grave left unmentioned in The Four Gospels, the moment when His mother held her son's corpse.
- The Perfectionist: The David has long been praised as the absolute perfection of human anatomy. Michelangelo Buonarroti worked for two years straight on David, sleeping rarely and eating sparsely. There are hundreds of tiny details that you can see, from the raised veins on his hand from the grip on the stone to the small genitals, not only standard for the time and area but also an example of pre-battle shrinkage. The only notable anatomical flawnote is that of a missing muscle in the back. But it was necessary. A flaw in the block of marble prevented Michelangelo from carving it, as mentioned in a letter he released at the time of finishing. It's the same flaw (among others) that had the block of marble sitting in a plaza for 40 years before Michelangelo took a chance.
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis: To younger generations, the name "Michelangelo" calls up associations with the funniest of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
- Primary-Color Champion: The Virgin Mary is at the forefront of the Doni Tondo in a light red and a bright blue that symbolize her special place in creation as the Mother of God.
- Public Execution: The Crucifixion of Saint Peter is a lively showing of the death penalty, with surprised travelers, talkative centurions, and sobbing woman all crowding the scene as preparations are made to suffocate Saint Peter by tying him upside-down to a wooden stick.
- Rays from Heaven: In The Conversion of Saul, Jesus aggressively shoots a beam of heavenly light into Paul's face to let him know that A) He's legit about the whole God thing and B) he messed up with the whole killing the Christians thing.
- Referenced by...: As you might easily guess, one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was named after him.
- Renaissance Man: A literal example, due both to living in this era and to being omnidisciplinary in the three major art forms.
- His life was adapted to the screen as The Agony and the Ecstasy.
- A Monty Python sketch performed during stage shows has John Cleese argue with Michelangelo (Eric Idle, but Ade Edmondson has also played the part) about the Sistine Chapel and all the odd things he painted on the chapel.
- In The Simpsons episode Itchy, Scratchy & Marge, the statue of David is exhibited in Springfield, but it causes controversy among its prudish citizens. Marge, who successfully banned Itchy & Scratchy's from TV due to its violence, finds herself arguing with her former censorship advocates because she sees David as a piece of art that everyone should be able to see.
- Epic Rap Battles of History: Michelangelo rapped along with Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, and Raphael against the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
- The Progressive Black Metal band Krallice used a fragment of his writing as the lyrics to their song "The Mountain".
- Sleepyhead: Night is perpetually uneasy, yet even in her discomfort she still can't keep her eyes from falling shut.
- Vertical Kidnapping: The Torment of St. Anthony is set in the middle of such a kidnapping as a host of demons take St. Anthony by surprise and lift him above the hills into the sky.
- Winged Humanoid: Several of the demons in The Torment of Saint Anthony resemble short humans with frayed wings that let them lift Anthony through the air.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: In the Madonna of Bruges, Jesus is only a baby, yet he's standing with little to no support from his mother and is leaning away from her out towards the world with a determined expression. Even in his infancy, the Messiah is depicted by Michelangelo as already aware of his mission to humanity.
- Young Future Famous People: The Doni Tondo depicts the infant Jesus of Nazareth long before becoming world famous as the central figure of Christianity, while a slightly older baby inferred to be John the Baptist looks on from the background.
Media featuring Michelangelo:
- The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), about the painting of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling and the feud with Pope Julius II. Charlton Heston played his role.
- Cesare - Il Creatore che ha distrutto:
- Michelangelo appears as a recurring character in the second half. He comes to Pisa as part of his artistic training. In 1491, Michelangelo was also 16, the same age as protagonist Cesare Borgia, his classmates, Miguel da Corella (Cesare's most loyal follower) and Giovanni de'Medici (the future Pope Leo X). Cesare's friend Angelo was Michelangelo's childhood friend, and they reunite and catch up. Later, when a group of students knock over the favorite statue of their host, the Archbishop, Angelo suggests asking Michelangelo to help them fix the intimate part that got broken off.
- The 2013 gaiden depicts the 1504 episode when Michelangelo and Leonardo were hired by the city of Florence to paint competing murals on facing walls.
- From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: Much of the book centers around a statue that was sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for a paltry $225. The curators believe (but cannot prove) that it is a lost Michelangelo. It is.
- One Winged Michelangelo is a Shōnen manga about Michelangelo's training. It starts when he's 13, and leaves Latin school to become an apprentice craftsman. It is as shonen as Cesare is Seinen.
- A Season of Giants (1990), mini-series depicting Michelangelo's entire life. Played by Mark Frankel.
- Sin (2019), about his struggles induced by the colossal orders of Pope Julius II, the difficulties of extracting marble in Carrara and the political, spiritual, mental and financial hassles he has to go through at the same time. Played by Alberto Testone.