Michelangelo Free Bible
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The Creation of Man is only a detail of the vast composition, covering
over 10,000 square feet of surface, on the ceiling of the Sistine
Chapel. It shows the colossal figure of God reaching across the abyss
which must forever separate Him from mankind, and about to touch
fingertips with Adam.
Our first parent is painted as a magnificent superman, but his
expression is languid and his manner listless. God has not yet quickened
him with the touch which endowed him and each of his descendants with
the precious gift of a soul.
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Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475 - 1564)
"Today I, Michel
Angelo, sculptor, began the painting of the Chapel." Here we have his own
written statement, dated March 10, 1508. It was set down in despair by the great
"sculptor who painted." A little less than a year later, when the work on the
Sistine Chapel was well under way, he protested again: "This is not my
profession. ... I am uselessly wasting my time."
Michelangelo, recognized as the greatest sculptor of the world, had been
recalled to Rome by Pope Julius II and commanded to decorate the ceiling of the
Sistine Chapel. He pleaded that painting was not his trade and insisted that the
task should be given to his young rival Raphael. Perhaps he was still smarting
humiliation of having been thrust out of the Vatican by a servant only a few
months before. But the Pope was adamant and Michelangelo reluctantly went to
work on the Chapel, learning the technique of painting as he labored. "Destiny
so ruled," writes Sidney Colvin, "that the work thus thrust upon him remains his
chief title to glory."
Michelangelo was born in a small town outside of
Florence. His nurse was the wife of a marble cutter. In later years the great
artist jokingly remarked that his love of sculpture had been sucked from the
breast of his foster-mother. One of his first pieces of carving was a "Sleeping
Cupid." It was carried to Rome and fraudulently sold to a Cardinal as an antique
piece of Greek sculpture. When the Cardinal learned of the deception he was so
delighted to know that a living Italian could produce work that rivaled the
early Greeks that he sent for the sculptor and bestowed his favor upon him.
Michelangelo began work on the Chapel with a corps of assistants, but soon he
drove them away and painted out everything they had done. Not content with
dispensing with their services, he tore down the scaffoldings they had erected
and put up his own. Then he locked the door and for four years toiled on in
sorrow and fury. At last, on All Saints' Day, 1512, he removed the scaffoldings
from which the impatient Pope had threatened to have him thrown, and after lying
on his back for four years to paint the ceiling, he stood on his feet once more
to receive the greatest ovation ever tendered any artist.
Raphael openly thanked God that it had been given to him to live in the same
century with Michelangelo.
The great sculptor lived to be nearly ninety, working with undimmed vision and
unflagging genius up to the very end. A friend met the great man one day near
the Colosseum. He was on foot making his way through the snow, aged, infirm and
alone. The friend inquired where he was going. "To school," he replied, "to
school, to try to learn something."
From his earliest youth Michelangelo
cherished all worthy things, his art first, to which he gave himself completely
in spite of his father's opposition. Ordinary pleasures he held in contempt; he
worked without ceasing and denied himself every luxury. "More than this," Taine
writes, "he lived like a monk, without wife or mistress, chaste in a voluptuous
court, knowing but one love, and that austere and Platonic, for one woman as
proud and as noble as himself. At evening, after the labor of the day, he wrote
sonnets in her praise, and knelt in spirit before her, as did Dante at the' feet
of Beatrice, praying to her to sustain his weaknesses and keep him in the 'right
path.' He bowed his soul before her as before an angel of virtue. . . . She died
before him, and for a long time he remained 'downstricken, as if deranged.'
Several years later his heart still cherished a great grief—the regret that he
had not, at her deathbed, kissed her brow or cheek instead of her hand."
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