Top 10 fun facts about Michelangelo

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, simply known to most as Michelangelo, was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance born in the Republic of Florence, who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. Several scholars have described Michelangelo as the greatest artist of his age and even as the greatest artist of all time.

His work is among the most famous in existence; he is the best-documented artist of the 16th century.

In his lifetime, Michelangelo was often called ‘Divino’ meaning ‘the divine one’.  His contemporaries often admired his ability to instil a sense of awe.

1. He sculpted the “David” from a discarded block of marble

Like any artist creating a masterpiece, Michelangelo was particular about the marble he used for his sculptures. Known as “the Giant,” the massive slab used to sculpt the ‘David’ had been quarried nearly 40 years earlier for a series of sculptures, eventually abandoned, for the Florence Cathedral. It had deteriorated and grown rough after years of exposure to the elements, and by the time Michelangelo began working with it in 1501, it already bore the chisel marks of more than one frustrated sculptor. Michelangelo eventually crafted the discarded block into one of his most brilliant works, but recent analyses of the “David” have revealed that the poor quality of its stone may have caused it to degrade at a faster rate than most marble statues.

2. He did not sign his artwork

Michelangelo was not fond of placing his signature on his works of art. The last recorded work he signed was the Pietà. This was his first sculptural masterpiece, so good was it that no one believed it could have come from a young artist. This drove him to inscribe his name on a sash running diagonally across the Virgin Mary’s chest.

Instead of signing, Michelangelo would often paint himself into the work. The most famous of these self-portraits is in The Last Judgment fresco that covers an entire wall of the Sistine Chapel. There, St. Bartholomew is holding the skin of a face that appears to be Michelangelo’s.

3. Michelangelo began his career as an art forger

In 1496, Michelangelo made a sleeping cupid figure and treated it with acidic earth to make it seem ancient. He then sold it to a dealer who in turn sold it to Cardinal Riario of San Giorgio. Riario later heard rumours of the scam and got his money back, but he was so impressed by Michelangelo’s skill that he invited him to Rome for a meeting. The young sculptor would linger in Rome for the next several years, eventually winning a commission to carve the Pieta, the work that first made his name as an artist.

4. Michelangelo was not fond of Leonardo da Vinci

Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci had a mutual dislike for each other,” says their biographer Vasari. Michelangelo and Leonardo stood out as strong and mighty-personalities with two irreconcilably opposed attitudes towards art. Their fierce independence led to clashes whenever circumstances brought them face-to-face.

5. Michelangelo had a vengeful nature

During the time Michelangelo worked on his masterwork The Last Judgment, Pope Paul III went to visit the Sistine with his entourage of prelates. Among them was the pope’s Master of Ceremonies, Biagio da Cesena, who was absolutely scandalized by the great number of naked figures and strongly protested, affirming that a fresco of that kind didn’t deserve anything more than the wall of a bar.

Michelangelo responded by painting Biagio da Cesena into Hell, as Minos, judge of the souls, with a serpent intent on nibbling his genitals.

6. Michelangelo lived longer than most men in his era

In 1557, Michelangelo was forced to leave Rome because of the threat of invasion by Spain. He spent several of his last years travelling in much the same way as he had started his adult years. He returned to Rome after the threat had passed. Michelangelo died following a short illness in 1564 at 89. This was far past the usual life expectancy of the era.

7. Michelangelo was the wealthiest artists of his time

Although Michelangelo was known to be plausibly well off, new research suggests that he was well above average. Michelangelo was well compensated by Pope Julius II, one of his great patrons. He also invested wisely and successfully in real estate. Michelangelo’s riches would have made him one of the wealthiest artists of his time. This puts him in a category ahead of Leonardo da Vinci, Titian or Raphael Sanzio.

8. His great work at the Sistine Chapel may have never come to be

Envy is an awful thing but IN Michelangelo’s case his enemies led him to his greatest work. Renaissance painters, including Raphael, convinced Pope Julius to hire Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel, in an effort to sabotage his career. Keep in mind that Michelangelo at this time was considered to be for the most part a sculptor. Michelangelo nearly didn’t accept the job, but eventually took it. It took him 4 years to paint lying on scaffolding but he created one of the most magnificent masterpieces ever created.

9. He worked for nine different catholic popes

In the 70 years of Michelangelo’s life worked for nine Catholic pontiffs. He first worked for Julius II and completed with Pius IV. He was not only famed for his work in the Sistine chapel. His works include all kinds of stuff, like ornamental knobs for the papal bed.

10. Michelangelo never wedded

Michelangelo was never married, in fact, very little is known about his love life. However, he did write quite passionate love poems.

It is documented that much later in his life he was involved in a romantic affair with a fellow poet by the name Vittoria Colonna.

Michelangelo is indeed a genius whose story is well known to many. Nonetheless, these top 10 fun facts about Michelangelo give you more insight into the person that he really was. I hope you enjoyed reading through this article.