Michelangelo (full name Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni) (March 6, 1475 – February 18, 1564) was a Renaissance sculptor, architect, painter, and poet. He is famous for creating the fresco ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, as well as the Last Judgment over the altar, and “The Martyrdom of St. Peter” and “The Conversion of St. Paul” in the Vatican’s Cappella Paolina; among his many sculptures are those of David and the Pieta, as well as the Virgin, Bacchus, Moses, Rachel, Leah, and members of the Medici family; he also designed the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Michelangelo was born near Arezzo, in Caprese, Tuscany, Italy in 1475. His father, Lodovico, was the resident magistrate in Caprese. However, Michelangelo was raised in Florence and later lived with a sculptor and his wife in the town of Settignano where his father owned a marble quarry and a small farm. Michelangelo once said to the biographer of artists Giorgio Vasari, “What good I have comes from the pure air of your native Arezzo, and also because I sucked in chisels and hammers with my nurse’s milk.”
Against his father’s wishes, Michelangelo chose to be the apprentice of Domenico Ghirlandaio for three years starting in 1488. Impressed, Domenico recommended him to the ruler of Florence, Lorenzo de’ Medici. From 1490 to 1492, Michelangelo attended Lorenzo’s school and was influenced by many prominent people who modified and expanded his ideas on art and even his feelings about sexuality. It was during this period that Michelangelo created two reliefs: Battle of the Centaurs and Madonna of the Steps.
After the death of Lorenzo in 1492, Piero de’ Medici (Lorenzo’s oldest son and new head of the Medici family), refused to support Michelangelo’s artwork. Also at that time, the ideas of Savonarola became popular in Florence. Under those two pressures, Michelangelo decided to leave Florence and stay in Bologna for three years. Soon afterwards, Cardinal San Giorgio purchased Michelangelo’s marble Cupid and decided to summon him to Rome in 1496. Influenced by Roman antiquity, he produced the Bacchus and the PietÃ .