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Michelangelo

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Michelangelo is a biography of Michelangelo Buonarroti, one of the world's greatest artists.   Michelangelo started early in life working with the tools of his trade when he stayed with a local stonecutter's family in Caprese. He loved the work so much that, at age thirteen, "he asked his father's permission to quit school and become an artist's apprentice." 

At the age of twenty-five, Michelangelo created his first famous sculpture, the Pieta, "a marble sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding the dead Christ in her arms."  Michelangelo was given the title of the "greatest sculptor in all of Italy" after he finished with the statue of David.

Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel where he told the creation and destruction as they are in the Bible.  Later he painted the back wall of the Sistine with a scene called The Last Judgment.  Michelangelo worked for many years to complete Pope Julius's tomb, and when it was complete no one was impressed and hence the Pope's body was never laid to rest there.

Michelangelo was seventy when he began his last and final work, "the crowning achievement of his remarkable life," the construction of a new church" for Pope Paul in 1547 called the St. Peter.

"In an age of great artists, he was perhaps the greatest, creating immortal works in all three of the major arts--sculpture, painting, and architecture."

 

Diane Stanley has given us a well-researched biography of one the world's greatest artists: Michelangelo.  The accuracy of Stanley's book in enhanced by the listing of more than ten book about Michelangelo.  Books that were consulted include: Ascanio Condivi's The Life of Michelangelo, and Georg Brandes's Michelangelo: His Life, His Times, His EraStanley had included an Author's Note at the front of the book which gives background information on Renaissance art and Florence, Italy.  "By Michelangelo’s time, the city had become a living museum; with masterpieces of painting and sculpture almost everywhere you turned --on the walls of churches and monasteries and in the public squares."

Stanley research shows that Michelangelo was so concerned with making sure that his works of art were true to life that he studied anatomy in the morgue at the hospital of Santo Spirito.  She also made sure that she did not sugar-coat the story.  Through the story we learn that Michelangelo was irritable, arrogant, and impatient.  "He fretted constantly about money and had twice to go all the way to Bologna to ask the pope to pay him."  He grew impatient with his assistants, who were helping paint the Sistine Chapel that he sent them home.  "As he got older, Michelangelo grew suspicious and rude, coldly rejecting his nephew's gifts.  He accused the poor boy of waiting greedily for him to die, hoping to inherit his money.

The organization of the book is very well-written and enjoyable.  It is presented in a logical order from the beginning of Michelangelo's life in 1475, describing his career highlights, the David and paintings at the Sistine Chapel and completing with his death in1564.

 

The illustrations "prepared using watercolors, colored pencil, and gouache on Arcjes watercolor paper" are truly a wonder in their own right.  Brilliant reds, greens, and purples are used for robes.  The pictures of Michelangelo's work, at the Sistine Chapel, according to the book, "were manipulated on the computer" so that they could fit into the book. Breathtaking and painstaking at the same time to look at – one only could image to see them with their own eyes.

Stanley's writing "Michelangelo, deeply saddened by Lorenzo's death, moved back into his father's house," throughout the book is written like a novel.  Stanley uses language and vocabulary that is appropriate for this book to be used as an introductory for art and art history for children ages ten and above. 

 

 

 

Stanley, Diane.  2000.  MichelangeloUSA: Harper Collins Publishers.  ISBN: 0688150853.

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