Eugène Müntz

Language: English

Pages: 256


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Michelangelo, like Leonardo, was a man of many talents; sculptor, architect, painter and poet, he made the apotheosis of muscular movement, which to him was the physical manifestation of passion. He moulded his draughtsmanship, bent it, twisted it, and stretched it to the extreme limits of possibility. There are not any landscapes in Michelangelo's painting. All the emotions, all the passions, all the thoughts of humanity were personified in his eyes in the naked bodies of men and women. He rarely conceived his human forms in attitudes of immobility or repose. Michelangelo became a painter so that he could express in a more malleable material what his titanesque soul felt, what his sculptor's imagination saw, but what sculpture refused him. Thus this admirable sculptor became the creator, at the Vatican, of the most lyrical and epic decoration ever seen: the Sistine Chapel. The profusion of his invention is spread over this vast area of over 900 square metres. There are 343 principal figures of prodigious variety of expression, many of colossal size, and in addition a great number of subsidiary ones introduced for decorative effect. The creator of this vast scheme was only thirty-four when he began his work. Michelangelo compels us to enlarge our conception of what is beautiful. To the Greeks it was physical perfection; but Michelangelo cared little for physical beauty, except in a few instances, such as his painting of Adam on the Sistine ceiling, and his sculptures of the Pietà. Though a master of anatomy and of the laws of composition, he dared to disregard both if it were necessary to express his concept: to exaggerate the muscles of his figures, and even put them in positions the human body could not naturally assume. In his later painting, The Last Judgment on the end wall of the Sistine, he poured out his soul like a torrent. Michelangelo was the first to make the human form express a variety of emotions. In his hands emotion became an instrument upon which he played, extracting themes and harmonies of infinite variety. His figures carry our imagination far beyond the personal meaning of the names attached to them.

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later, Michelangelo, roughed out two circular low reliefs, each called Madonna with Child, although this art form suited him only mildly. The first is at the Bargello Museum and distinguished as the Tondo Taddei after Taddeo Taddei, a Florentine art lover and friend of Raphael’s; the second is the Pitti Tondo, named after the commissioning Bartolomeo Pitti, and now at the Royal Academy of London. In the Bargello medallion, the Virgin is seated on a block of stone (Michelangelo shunned all

in his life. This was because he needed to choose of his glory on this initiative or the artist who benefitted from each marble block personally and he saved on freight costs if the the chance to complete his finest masterpiece. The Pope did not roughhewing happened before shipment. always have the last word in this duel between two equally obstinate individuals: as he admitted himself at their reconciliatory meeting in Bologna: “Yes, instead of coming to us, you waited for us to come to

strength. Hands tied behind his back with one foot on the ground, he casts an ardent look at the heavens, both in protest and in a plea for help: Michelangelo invested his whole heart and soul into that look, along with his ferocious love of freedom and justice. We stand not before some symbolic figure, but before Prometheus himself — a Prometheus immovably chained to a rock by his unshakable will ready to defy the gods as long and as often as needed. It is an admirable example of the moral

genesis of Rosso’s Three Fates in the Pitti Palace, of 110. Pietà, 1538-1540. Sebastiano del Piombo’s Flagellation of Christ at the San Pietro Black stone, 29 x 19 cm. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston. Church in Montorio and Salviati’s Fall of Phaeton and The 111. The Fall of Phaeton, 1533. Archers (Il Bersaglio) in red chalk at the House of Windsor Charcoal, 41.3 x 23.5 cm. Royal Library, Windsor. 148 TS Michelangelo ENG 4C.qxp P-OK.qxp 08/13/05 9/6/2005 11:35 8:42 AM Page AM

mother. The other figures in the composition appear less Black chalk. Teyler Museum, Haarlem. Byzantine and wear gold more sparingly. The pleating on her 2. Copy of a figure from “Tribute Money” by Masaccio, 1488-1495. garb outlines the curves of her body. These features define his Kupferstichkabinett, Munich. contribution to a fourteenth-century revolution in Florentine art. 3. Raphael, Leon X, ca. 1517. His skills as a portrait and landscape artist served him well when Distemper on

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