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Michelangelo Buonarroti was a renowned Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, and poet. He has a long legacy and a reputation for creating art that combines Classical influences with a personal vision and new techniques that transformed art forever. Keep reading to learn more about one of the most famous artists of the Italian Renaissance.

Michelangelo Facts

  • His full name is Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni
  • Born March 6th, 1475
  • His mother died when he was six years old
  • He grew up during the Italian Renaissance
  • Famed sculptor, painter, architect, and poet
  • He is known for his sculptures and the Sistine Chapel's ceiling fresco
  • Died 1564 at 88 years old

Michelangelo Buonarroti. Michelangelo. Studysmarter.

Michelangelo Buonarroti. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Michelangelo Biography

Michelangelo Buonarroti was born on March 6th, 1475. While he was born in Caprese, Italy, his family relocated to Florence when he was a baby. He was not known for being much of a scholar as a child; instead, he was more interested in painting and drawing.

Michelangelo became an apprentice to painter Domenico Ghirlandaio when he was thirteen. Ghirlandaio exposed him to fresco painting, which is essentially a way to paint a mural on wet plaster.

Fresco painting:

A painting technique where the paint is placed directly on top of fresh, wet plaster, so the pigment becomes one with the surface.

Michelangelo studied sculpture in the Medici family's Garden of Palazzo as a teenager. The Medicis were the ruling family in Florence at the time. Studying in the palace gardens exposed him to many people in the elite social class. He met scholars, poets, and humanists. He was also allowed to examine cadavers to learn about human anatomy. It is thought that experience influenced his artistic style.


The perspective that the study of science and philosophy can help solve human problems instead of religion.

Did you know?

Michelangelo was known for having a short temper and disagreeable personality. When he was young, he had an altercation with another student, resulting in a broken nose that changed its shape for his entire life.

While living in the Medici home, he worked with Bertoldo di Giovanni, a reputable sculptor. Political turmoil broke out when Michelangelo's sponsor, Lorenzo de Medici, died. Michelangelo left to study in Bologna before returning to Florence in 1495. This was when he began working as a sculptor. While living in Bologna, he was commissioned to complete the carving of the Tomb of St. Dominic.

Upon returning to Florence, he completed two statues, St. John the Baptist and the Cupid. Following the Cupid, Michaelangelo crafted a sculpture of Bacchus.

Did you know?

Michelangelo's "Cupid" sculpture was aged to look like an antique. One theory is that Michaelenglo did it to develop a distinct patina. Another theory is that his art dealer made it look rare. The sculpture was purchased by Cardinal Riario, who thought it was an antique. While Riario was initially upset that he was tricked, he ended up inviting the Florentine to Rome, commissioning the works that would make Michelangelo famous.

In 1498 Michelangelo was commissioned to sculpt "The Pieta," which features the body of Jesus down from the cross being held by the Virgin Mary. It was made out of one piece of marble. This sculpture is currently on display in St. Peter's Basilica. In 1501 he was asked to sculpt young David from the Old Testament. This seventeen-foot sculpture is currently on display at the Galleria dell'Accademia.

In 1505, Pope Julius II commissioned a sculpted tomb, complete with 40 life-sized statues. This was a complicated project that Michelangelo worked on for a long time. In 1508, Pope Julius commissioned the painting of the Sistine Chapel.

From 1520 to 1527, Michelangelo worked on the inside of the Medici Chapel in Florence. This was followed up by designing the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, a sculpture of Moses completed in 1515, a painting called The Last Judgement (1534), and sculptures entitled Day, Night, Dawn, and Dusk (1533).

Moses. Source: Michelangelo (Wikimedia Commons) CC-BY-3.0

Beginning in the late 1530s, Michelangelo started writing poems. He wrote over 300 poems, many of which were sonnets and madrigals. Most of the poems were written for close friends.

In 1534, Michelangelo left Florence to move to Rome permanently. Michelangelo died in 1564 after a bout of illness. He was 88 years old. Now he is buried at the Basilica di Santa Croce.

Michelangelo's Art

While Michelangelo is known for being an architect and poet, he is most famous for his art.

Michelangelo's sculptures

Most of his remaining sculptures are made from Carrara marble, the prime material of the Italian Renaissance sculpture. Let's examine his most representative works briefly.

The Pieta

In 1849, Michelangelo was working as a sculptor in Rome. A visiting French cardinal, acting as a representative of King Charles VII to the Pope, commissioned a statue that would later be known as "The Pieta." Cardinal Jean de Bilheres wanted a sculpture for his future tomb. "The Pieta" was supposed to depict the body of Jesus in the lap of the Virgin Mary. It is currently on display in St. Peter's Basilica.

The Pieta. Michelangelo. StudySmarter.


In 1501 he was commissioned to sculpt a seventeen-foot tall sculpture of David from the Old Testament of the Bible. Experts consider it to be perfect. Currently, "David" is in Florence at the Galleria dell'Accademia.

David is significant because it demonstrates Michelangelo's detailed knowledge of anatomy.

Michelangelo, Florence Renaissance sculpture, StudySmarter

Michelangelo's David. Source: Vyacheslav Argenberg (Wikimedia Commons) CC-BY-4.0

Michelangelo's Paintings

Michelangelo's influences were not only artists like Ghirlandaio and Sandro Botticelli. Philosophers like Picco della Mirandolla also had a crucial influence on his work, especially in his painting of the Vatican's Sistine Chapel.

The Sistine Chapel

In 1805, Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Julius II to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. At this point, Michelangelo was known for his marble sculptures, not for his painting. However, the Sistine Chapel changed that.

The painting of the Sistine Chapel began in 1508 and concluded in 1512. Michelangelo used the space to depict several scenes from the Old Testament of the Bible. It starts with the Creation of the World and ends with Noah and the Flood.

To paint the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo painted the molding and statues onto the fresco. He used grey coloring to give the idea that they were created of concrete. The painted molding and statues created frames for the Old Testament scenes. The frames were used to depict not only people and prophets from the Old Testament but also portraits of popes. He also depicted pagan sibyls.

The Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo. Studysmarter.

The Sistine Chapel. Source Aaron Logan (Wikimedia Commons) CC-BY-2.5

Artistic Rivalry

Michelangelo experienced rivalry with other renaissance painters, such as Leonardo da Vinci and Raphel.

In 1503 Michelangelo and da Vinci were commissioned to paint opposing walls in the Palazzo Vecchio. Unfortunately, the paintings were never finished and were painted over.

In 1508, Raphael was commissioned to paint a fresco in the Pope's library. It was a commission Michelangelo, and da Vinci wanted.

Raphael's painting style was similar to Michelangelo's, and Michelangelo accused him of copying his work. While it is evident that Michelangelo influenced him, it cannot be said that his work was a direct copy.

Michelangelo Summary

Michelangelo Buonarroti was born in March of 1475. He was born in Caprese, but his family moved to Florence when he was an infant. It was in Florence that he went to school. However, he wasn't much of a scholar. He was more interested in art. As a young teen, Michelangelo became an apprentice to painter Domenico Ghirlandaio before studying sculpture in the Medici family's Palazzo Gardens.

Michelangelo began sculpting, creating masterpieces from single pieces of marble. He was commissioned to create works of art like The Pieta and David. The Pope appointed him to paint murals also. His most famous plastic work is the fresco on the roof of the Sistine Chapel.

Later on, Miachelango began architectural projects. He also began writing a large amount of poetry.

Michelangelo died in 1564 after a short illness. He was 88 years old.

Michelangelo - Key takeaways

  • Michelangelo was an essential figure in the Italian Renaissance.
  • He was interested in art as a young boy and became an apprentice as a young teen. His education experience and exposure to corpses allowed him to gain a deep understanding of the human body.
  • He is known for his sculptures and paintings. Key examples of these include David, The Peita, and the painting on the roof of the Sistine Chapel.
  • Later in life, he dabbled in architectural design and poetry writing. He died in Florence at the age of 88.

Frequently Asked Questions about Michelangelo

Michelangelo is an influential Renaissance painter and sculptor from Italy.

Michelangelo Buonarroti was born in March of 1475.

It took four years to paint the Sistine Chapel.

Currently, Michelangelo's "David" is in Florence at the Galleria dell'Accademia.

Final Michelangelo Quiz


Michelangelo Buonarroti was born in 

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Michelangelo was known for his 

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Michelangelo was known for ____________ painting. 

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It is thought learning about _______ helped him achieve such a realistic style of art. 

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human anatomy 

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___________ is the idea that science and philosophy can solve human problems, instead of religion

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True or False: Michelangelo was known for having a short temper and disagreeable personality

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True or False: Michelangelo's "Cupid" sculpture was fraudulently aged to look like an antique

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When was Michelangelo was commissioned to sculpt "The Pieta"?

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Which of the following are the names of his sculptures?

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Which of the folloiwng are paintings of Miachelaglo's? 

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Sistine Chapel Ceiling 

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