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Angelo, Michael

Angelo, Michael, Buonarotti (sometimes written Michelangelo), who stands in the forefront of Italian artists as painter, sculptor, and architect, was born of a good Tuscan family in 1474. In childhood the bent of his genius showed itself, and he was early apprenticed to Ghirlandajo, whom he soon surpassed. However, under the encouragement of Lorenzo de Medici he turned his attention to sculpture - for oil painting he always had a certain contempt - and worked for several years in the Medici Palace. In 1496 he visited Rome and produced his Sleeping Cupid and the Pieta that still stands in St. Peter's. Returning to Florence (1501) he carved the colossal David, and in 1505 designed the cartoon of the Surprise of Pisan Soldiers while Bathing to match a decoration by Leonardo da Vinci in the Council Hall of Florence. He settled in Rome in 1508 with a view to making a mausoleum for Pope Julius II. It was then that he painted the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, his masterpiece in that branch of art, whilst he executed the statue of Moses for the tomb of Julius - perhaps his noblest work in sculpture. From 1513 to 1525 he appears to have lived in Florence engaged on the Laurentian library, the Medici chapel, and the mausoleum of the family, where his famous figures Night and Morning are to be seen. At the request of Clement VII. he began in 1533 the great fresco of The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine chapel, and he was appointed by Paul III. to the complete charge of the Vatican. In 1547 he became architect of St. Peter's, designed but did not complete the dome - and spent the remainder of his days in rebuilding and improving that splendid structure. He died in 1564, and was buried in Santa Croce at Florence. He never married, but the story of his love for Vittoria Colonna is well known. In addition to his other great talents Michael Angelo possessed in no small degree the gift of poetry.

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