Michelangelo Buonarroti exerted enormous influence. He, too, was universally acknowledged as a supreme artist in his own lifetime, but again, his followers all too often present us with only the master's outward manner, his muscularity and gigantic grandeur: they miss the inspiration. Sebastiano del Piombo (c.1485-1547), for example, actually used a drawing (at least a sketch) made for him by Michelangelo for his masterwork, The Raising of Lazarus. Masterwork it is, yet how melodramatic it appears if compared with Michelangelo's own painting.
Michelangelo resisted the paintbrush, vowing with his characteristic vehemence that his sole tool was the chisel. As a well-born Florentine, a member of the minor aristocracy, he was temperamentally resistant to coercion at any time. Only the power of the pope, tyranical by position and by nature, forced him to the Sistine and the reluctant achievement of the world's greatest single fresco.
Creation of Adam: This is one of the works of the Frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, commissioned by Pope Julius II della Rovere in 1508. The masterwork was completed between 1508 and 1512.
You can purchase prints or canvas reproductions of this image at my store.
Creation of Adam
Michelangelo's contemporaries spoke about his terribilità, which means, of course, not so much being terrible as being awesome. There has never been a more literally awesome artist than Michelangelo: awesome in the scope of his imagination, awesome in his awareness of the significance - the spiritual significance - of beauty. Beauty was to him divine, one of the ways God communicated Himself to humanity.
Ignudo Number Eight of 1511 from the Sistine Chapel: I have prints of this image available.
Ignudo Number One (below) from the Sistine Chapel. I also offer reproductions of this nude.
Ignudo Six (below): I've also got reproductions of this striking image at my online store.
The Sistine Chapel offers a stunning virtual-reality, 360-degree tour of these masterpieces online. You can easily spot the ignudi above.
David (below): Michelangelo was a citizen of the city state of Firenze (Florence). The national state of Italy was very young, and in the time the statue was made (between 1501 and 1504), power resided with individual cities. Firenze was surrounded by enemies that much stronger and more numerous than the city was. When the statue of David was placed on the square in front of the city hall (where you can now find a copy), the people of Firenze immediately identified with him, as a cunning victor over superior enemies. I have reproductions of this statue available for your home.
To them, David was a symbol representing fortezza and ira, strength and anger. The statue had (intended) political connotations for the city state that had recently cast of the ruling of the Medici family. Note how David's character traits, are considered more important than his victory over Goliath, which is why Michelangelo depicted him before the battle, strong-willed and ready to fight.