The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. (Michaelangelo)
We as parents often think we know what is best for our children. In one case in history, the parent had it all wrong. Michelangelo’s father did not want him to become an artist. To be an artist was considered below his social class. ( Born March 6, 1475 in Caprese, Republic of Florence, Italy and died February 18, 1564 in Rome.)
“Michelangelo was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and ever since then, he has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all time. A number of his works in painting, sculpture and architecture rank among the most famous in existence.
The frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican are probably the best known. Michelangelo became an art apprentice relatively late, at 13, perhaps after overcoming his father’s objections. He was apprenticed to the city’s most prominent painter, Domenico Ghirlandaio, for a three-year term, but he left after one year, having nothing more to learn…In 1504 he agreed to paint a huge fresco for the Sala del Gran Consiglio of the Florence city hall to form a pair with another just begun by Leonardo da Vinci. Both murals recorded military victories by the city (Michelangelo’s was the Battle of Cascina), but each also gave testimony to the special skills of the city’s much-vaunted artists…Pope Julius II call to Michelangelo to come to Rome spelled an end to both of these Florentine projects. The pope sought a tomb for which Michelangelo was to carve 40 large statues… Pope Julius had an ambitious imagination, parallel to Michelangelo’s, but because of other projects, such as the new building of St. Peter’s and his military campaigns, he evidently became disturbed soon by the cost. Michelangelo believed that Bramanti, the equally prestigious architect at St. Peter’s, had influenced the pope to cut off his funds. He left Rome, but the pope brought pressure on the city authorities of Florence to send him back. He was put to work on a colossal bronze statue of the pope in his newly conquered city of Bologna (which the citizens pulled down soon after when they drove the papal army out) and then on the less expensive project of painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (1508–12).” (Credit Encyclopedia Brittanica by Creighton Gilbert)
The Sistine Chapel: From 1508-1512, Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with a series of frescoes that portrayed several biblical stories. Perhaps the most famous image from the ceiling is The Creation of Adam, which depicts God giving life to the first human, Adam. (Wikipedia)
After viewing the chapel, click your back arrow to see the VIDEO below. (turn up sound)
To chisel in stone a creation takes more than the idea…but also the sweat and toil that goes with it. To carve any statue or a part of a building took hands and a hammer…with usually a price to pay. Recently I watched where statues that were carefully created are being removed and stored in some place to possibly be forgotten. Our children will not be able to see the beauty of a carved work of art, regardless of who may be represented in the statue.
In the Middle East, ISIS destroyed works of art carved into hillsides and in temples and museums. Gone from the earth because of dissent, mistrust, and complete disrespect for beauty or labor in stone…never to be seen again.
If ISIS could take over cities in Europe or the Vatican, would they also destroy the priceless statues and antiquities that were made in the name of the Christian faith, as they have done in the Middle East to museum works of art that are thousands of years old? See video link of destruction
The amazing works of art and marble statues could have been lost forever during World War II if it had not been for those who hid them or those who discovered them when it was ordered that they should be destroyed if Hitler should lose the war. The most famous true story of this is when the American army sent art experts to find where the Nazi regime had hidden them. This is better known by the film called Monuments Men.
Perhaps the greatest sculptor in stonework in history was Michaelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, 1475-1564. He aimed high for perfection in all that he made out of stone and in the paintings that he painted. He had the greatest influence on art in the Renaissance period and beyond. Not only did he produce some of the greatest stone works of art, but his masterpieces upon the walls of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican are beyond beautiful and inspiring.
The word Renaissance means “Rebirth”. His story in the video below is not only his search for meaning in life, but about his ability as a sculptor to make stone into an almost breathing piece of life. His life as a sculptor and artist, after hundreds of years, should be an inspiration to all of us to protect the monuments in stone that speak of history, faith, and of artistic beauty… that if lost…can not be replaced. Consider…if for no other reason, the hands that chiseled and the sweat that poured to make something wonderful for the world to enjoy is worth protecting and preserving. Perhaps we need a new “rebirth” period in our modern age.
AMEN and AMEN
If you have never seen the marvelous art and architecture of the Sistine Chapel or St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, this is your opportunity along with beautiful music for this Sunday morning. May you blessed by Michelangelo’s beautiful paintings and the sculpture of Masters.
Art and music for your Sunday listening.
History of the Chapel:
“In the year 1506, the famous Italian Renaissance Michelangelo Buonarroti was approached by Pope Julius the Second and offered the commission to the paint the Pope’s private chapel, the Sistine Chapel. For four years, 1508 through 1512, Michelangelo worked on 65 foot scaffolding, painting what would eventually become the greatest work of art in the Western world. When it was revealed, the world was inspired and shocked. Nearly five hundred years after it’s completion, the ceiling was once again forced into the spotlight.
In 1980, the Vatican announced it’s plans to launch a massive cleaning and restoration project on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling frescoes. This intensive civic project cost the Vatican millions of dollars and twelve years. The results were phenomenal. The ceiling was revealed as a vibrantly vivid and passionate work of art. ”
At Boyer Writes, we have looked at the Pieta and learned something of the life of Michelangelo in previous blogs, but today I would like to share with you an inter-active view of the Sistine Chapel.
You will be able to see the tiniest details that even the tourists that visit by the thousands each year do not see. This is how you view through an inter-active method. A pointer or arrow will be on your screen. Use your mouse to click…hold and pull this arrow around. On the lower left of the screen is a “zoom out or in” button. Use this to zoom toward any part of the chapel. You will soon see how it works. Turn on your sound for music. See all the paintings in their full, up-close glory!
May you be blessed this Sunday morning.
This week has been one of painting. I am opening a new space for my Asian Art collection and some antiques at the Renniger’s Antique Center in Mt. Dora, Florida. As I crawled around trying to get black or red paint on baseboards and standing too high on a ladder to reach the top of the wall, I wondered what it would be like for the most famous of painters as he worked on the Sistine Chapel high above the marble floor.
Michelangelo was born Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni on March 6, 1475 in Italy. He lived to be 88 years old and during his life time was known for sculpture, painting, architecture, and poetry.
While reading about his early life, I was reminded of students from my years of teaching. The young children would have pained at writing a full name as Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , but a number of my students walked closely in this master’s desire to create.
I remember one child in the 5th grade that was limited in his academic ability, but he often drew pictures that simply were breath-taking. As a teacher, I saw what this child could do…and could not do…so most of what I required of him included something for him to draw. I encouraged his mother to enroll him in any art school that she could and not force him into the college world of composition writing, high math and technology. I hope that she did and that he is following his love.
Michelangelo did not do well as a student, even though his father sent him to the best in education. Instead, he painted pictures from the churches and followed the artists of his time. He also had his share of fights with other students, as we know that Pietro Torrigiano, a great sculptor to be, broke his nose, causing the deformity that we often see in Michelangelo’s self portraits.
As he grew in his ability, one of his first works was a wooden crucifix which he gave to the church.
His works are too many to include in this writing, but a bit of history reminds us that he was only 21 years old when he arrived in Rome in the year 1496. He was commissioned by Cardinal Rafael Riario to work on a statue for his garden. The French ambassador in the Holy See commissioned one of his most famous works, the Pieta.
From a slab of marble, Michelangelo was able, through his God-given gift, to bring to life a piece of stone. Vasari summarized his ability: “It is certainly a miracle that a formless block of stone could ever have been reduced to a perfection that nature is scarcely able to create in the flesh.”
Returning to Florence, at approximately age 33, he completed one of his most famous works of the statue of David.
The painting of the Sistine chapel: Taken from the book of Genesis, the episodes were divided into three groups: God’s creation of Earth, Creation of Man and eventually Woman, and the Fall from God’s Grace. It also includes the state of humanity as represented by Noah and the pendentives supporting the ceiling are twelve men and women who proclaim the coming of Jesus.
The painting of God creating Adam is perhaps one of the most famous parts of the Sistine Ceiling. God’s right arm is outstretched to impart the spark of life from his own finger into that of Adam, whose left arm is extended in a pose mirroring God’s, a reminder that man is created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26). Another point is that Adam’s finger and God’s finger are not touching. It gives the appearance that God, the giver of life, is reaching out to Adam and Adam is receiving.
The Last Judgment Pope Clement VII commissioned the fresco, The Last Judgment to be painted on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel. He worked on the project from 1534 until 1541. The work was massive The Last Judgment is a depiction of the second coming of Christ to judge the world. The Holy Scriptures Revelation 20-22 “Come…let everyone who hears..come…let everyone who is thirsty come..let everyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift…”
Throughout his life as a painter and sculptor, Michelangelo was frustrated by the politics, rivals within the church and among fellow artists, as well as the changes in Popes throughout this time period. He even dealt with censorship of his works. At one point, to cover the genitals were demanded to make the art more decent. However, some remained uncensored, and Michelangelo pressed through all these obstacles to complete his work.
A temperamental artist; not terribly popular with people, Michelangelo was perhaps a genius at his craft and so totally dedicated to it that he was not able to connect with people. At one point, his passion was known as he hit a statue with a hammer and screamed , “Why don’t you speak to me?”
Michelangelo thought of himself as poor regardless of what he was paid. He was rough and uncouth and had domestic habits that were found unpleasant. He often slept in his clothes and boots. He was mostly indifferent to food and drink, eating only out of necessity. One may also call him isolated and melancholy. His works were sensuous, but he withdrew himself from men. There is no mention of marriage. Michelangelo died without knowing the impact he would have on the world. He had shown through his art the stories and truth of the Holy Scriptures, giving generations to come the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. For many throughout the world, whether literate or illiterate, these stories came to life before their very eyes. Their hearts would respond.