Questions for Michelangelo, Tuesday 7/19

Michelangelo I have two questions for you.  First question: Did you ever sleep?  Second question: When you were carving the southerly region of the statue of David did you forget that he was Jewish?

Today we made our way to the Vatican Museum.  We are learning a lot about Michelangelo.  He was a prankster.  As a teen-age apprentice he was given an original work and was asked to copy it.  He carefully aged his parchment with smoke and did such a precise job of reproducing it that he returned his copy, rather than the original and his teacher did not notice difference. Only Michelangelo was able to discern which work was the original. Painting the ceiling of the Sistine chapel was an amazing physical feat.  Michelangelo had to crane his neck, working with his arms overhead.  That kind of posture is very hard to maintain. He did it for four years, pretty much dawn to dusk.  He had an adversarial relationship with the Pope.  He used to drop stuff on top of him when he came in to inspect his work.  Michelangelo painted “The Last Judgment” which depicts the return of Christ and the subsequent separation of the saved and the dammed. He painted the image of the Pope on the dammed side of the fresco.  Some say the frescos of Sistine chapel is are the greatest works of art work ever created.  It is hard to argue with that. It is just stunning to see it in person.

St. Peter’s Basilica is Michelangelo’s most significant achievement as an architect. We climbed all the way to the tip-top of the dome.  The stairs follow the contour of the dome. We had to lean sideways and suck in our gut in a few places.  The view from the top of the dome, overlooking Rome was awesome. Within the Basilica is the  “Pieta”,  a statue of Mary holding the body of Jesus after he was crucified.  The story goes that he did the work in secret and then snuck it in to the church.  The next day everyone was raving about what a wonderful work of Christoforo Solari,  “He out did himself!”   The next day he carved the following inscription on the sash running across Mary’s breast: MICHEL ANGELUS BONAROTUS FLORENT FACIBAT  (Michelangelo Buonarroti, Florentine, made this). This is the only work that Michelangelo ever signed. Michelangelo later regretted his passionate outburst of pride and determined to never again sign a work of his hands. Everywhere you look in Rome there’s a finger print of Michelangelo. From architecture, to sculptures, to paintings, it is all very interesting.

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