How Many Works of Art Did Michelangelo Create?
Michelangelo was a Renaissance master who worked as a sculptor, painter and architect. He was commissioned by many powerful figures including the pope and was said to have brought life to marble like never before.
His first works such as the Madonna of the Steps and Battle of the Centaurs are early evidence of his promise and talent. He viewed himself primarily as a sculptor though and his huge sculpture of David is still celebrated today.
The Creation of Adam
Michelangelo portrayed the Biblical story of creation in a stunning fresco in the Sistine Chapel. One of the most famous scenes in this epic artwork is The Creation of Adam, which depicts God reaching down to Adam and bestowing life on him. This work features many of the hallmarks of Michelangelo’s painting style, including his use of muscular bodies and twisting poses. It also shows his mastery of sculpting, since the figures almost appear more like works of art than brush strokes.
What makes The Creation of Adam so iconic is the way Michelangelo captured this moment in time. The image of God’s hand almost touching Adam’s has been immortalized in paintings and movies, and it has become a symbol of the human race. This work represents the beginning of everything that we know, and it continues to resonate with us even today. Books have been written, and reinterpretations have been made, but there is something about this piece that will never die.
The Last Judgement
The Last Judgement is a large scale fresco that Michelangelo painted on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel. It was created in 1534 and it depicts a judgement scene where people who have been good will go to heaven and those that were evil will be punished for their crimes. It was created at a time when the Protestant Reformation had begun to gain momentum, and Michelangelo’s painting was meant to be a powerful reminder of the Catholic faith.
Christ is featured at the center of the painting and he carries a book with him that reveals who will be saved. The rest of the painting is filled with heavenly attendants, saints and other religious figures. Michelangelo used artistic license and included figures from Greek mythology. Many scholars believe that the skin held by St. Bartholomew is a self-portrait of the artist himself. The image is still one of the most powerful in world art history.
Michelangelo’s first major commission was a sculptural depiction of the Virgin Mary and her dead son. It was to be a tomb monument for the French cardinal Jean Bilheres de Lagraulas. Michelangelo carved two intricate figures – Mary and Jesus – from one block of marble to create a masterful work that was both classical and naturalistic. The Pieta is an early example of Renaissance ideals of natural beauty and human realism.
Its intimate portrayal of a mother and her dying child is both heartbreaking and life-giving. The detail of the draped cloths Michelangelo created gives his sculpture texture and substance. Its message of compassion and sympathy has touched believers for centuries, including a young geologist from Hungary named Laszlo Toth who leapt over the railings at St. Peter’s Basilica on Pentecost Sunday of 1972 to hammer away at the statue.
Today, a full-size bronze copy of the original Pieta stands in the lobby of Saint Louis Basilica. The work was commissioned by the Boston Store and cast in 1945 using molds from Michelangelo’s original marble, before the Italian government outlawed full-sized copies of monumental works.
In 1501 Michelangelo was contracted to create a large male statue out of marble for the Florence cathedral, technically called Santa Maria del Fiore. After two prior sculptors had tried and failed, Michelangelo successfully turned a block of marble weighing 12,500 pounds into the Biblical hero David. The figure is a pinnacle of male perfection and at 17 feet tall is literally larger than life.
David perfectly embodies the revitalization of ancient Greco-Roman art and culture in 15th century Florence. Michelangelo based his figure on monumental statues from the Classical period and also on depictions of Hercules, who was a hero with deep ties to the city of Florence and had even appeared on the Florentine seal.
Although Michelangelo had already proved his artistic genius in the Pieta two years earlier, it was this work that truly launched him into international fame. He was one of the most talented sculptors of his day and is credited with revolutionizing the art of sculpture.