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The High Renaissance in Italy: Michelangelo and Bramante. Michelangelo. His parents beat him severely to force him into a “respectable” profession-not art Painter, sculptor, architect A sculptor by trade, but commissioned by the Pope to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling

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The High Renaissance in Italy: Michelangelo and Bramante

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  • His parents beat him severely to force him into a “respectable” profession-not art
  • Painter, sculptor, architect
  • A sculptor by trade, but commissioned by the Pope to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling
  • Commissioned by SIX popes!
  • He was the first Western artist whose biography was published while he was alive !
michelangelo sculpture
Michelangelo & Sculpture
  • Exemplifies High Renaissance sculpture
  • Balance between static and movement
  • Two of his best-known works, the Pietà and the David, were sculpted before he turned 30!!
  • Did not believe in mathematics to guarantee proportion—he eyeballed everything


Pieta, ca. 1498-1500. Marble, 5’ 8 ½” high. Saint Peter’s, Vatican City, Rome*.

He was 23 at the time!

the piet pity
The Pietà=pity
  • St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City
  • Commissioned by French cardinal for his burial
  • Balances the Renaissance ideals of classical beauty with naturalism
  • Interpretation far different than those previously created —he decided to create a youthful, serene Virgin Mary instead of a broken-hearted and somewhat older woman.—More Northern Euro subject than Italian
  • Barely see Christ’
Structure is pyramidal
  • Statue widens progressively down the drapery of the Virgin's dress to the base
  • Figures are quite out of proportion,

BUT the relationship of the figures appears quite natural.

Sad fact:
  • In 1972, a mentally disturbed geologist named Laszlo Toth walked into the chapel and attacked the Virgin with a geologist's hammer while shouting "I am Jesus Christ."
  • Has undergone lengthy restoration and is behind protective glass





height 17’ without pedestal, Galleria dell’Accademia,


  • Biblical King David, at the moment that he decides to battle with Goliath
  • David is not depicted with the slain Goliath
  • David looks tense and ready for combat
  • A representation of the moment between conscious choice and conscious action
  • Remember, David=Florence
Michelangelo believed that the image of David was already in the block of stone he was working on — in much the same way as the human soul is found within the physical body.
  • Hellenistic
  • Carved from an 18’ block of marble!
Proportions are not true to the human form
    • the head and upper body are somewhat larger the lower body
    • the hands are also larger
  • The statue was originally intended to be placed on the buttress of the Florence Cathedral and the proportions would appear correct when viewed from below
  • After he finished, it was so admired, it was placed in Florence’s square
Michelangelo also used a technique, much like Bernini, where he left a raised outline around features on the face in order to catch light and create more realistic shadow

MICHELANGELO , Moses, from the tomb of Pope Julius II, Rome, Italy, ca. 1513–1515 *Marble, 7’ 8 1/2” high. San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome.

  • Pope Julius II interrupted the commission probably to divert funding to rebuilding St. Peter’s
  • After Julius dies in 1513, Michelangelo reduced the scale until it turned into a simple wall tomb with 1/3 less than the planned figures

MICHELANGELO, Bound Slave from the tomb of Pope Julius II, Rome, Italy, ca. 1513–1516*. Marble, 7’ 5/8” high. Louvre, Paris.

He finally completes the tomb in 1545!

the sistine chapel ceiling 1508 1512
The Sistine Chapel ceiling1508 - 1512
  • After Julius stops commission on his tomb, asks Michelangelo to do Sistine Chapel
  • He did not like to paint but did not want to insult the Pope
  • Did not know how to work in fresco—first section needed to be redone!
  • Represents the Downfall of Man and the Promise of Salvation through the prophets and Genealogy of Christ
  • Finished this in 4 years!!!!!!
The composition eventually contained over 300 figures and had at its centre nine episodes from the Book of Genesis, divided into three groups:
    • God's Creation of the Earth
    • God's Creation of Humankind and their fall from God's grace
    • The state of Humanity as represented by Noah and his famil
  • On the pendentives supporting the ceiling are painted twelve men and women who prophesied the coming of the Jesus
    • seven prophets of Israel
    • five Sibyls, prophetic women of the Classical world.
Michelangelo designed his own scaffold, a flat wooden platform on brackets built out from holes in the wall near the top of the windows, rather than being built up from the floor – mass could still be held in the chapel
  • Because he was painting fresco, the plaster was laid in a new section every day, called a giornata. At the beginning of each session, the edges would be scraped away and a new area laid down.

You can see the edges of one giornata

  • Bright colors and broad, cleanly-defined outlines make each subject easily visible from the floor
  • The architecture has been elaborated on with illusionary or fictive architecture in order to break up the ceiling into areas to tell the stories
June 1980 - December 1999: The restoration, which revealed the frescoes in bright pastel colors, was met with both praise and criticism. Those who are critical believe that much original work by Michelangelo was lost in the removal of various schmutz

Daniel, before and after restoration


Detail of the

Azor-Sadoch lunette over one of the Sistine Chapel windows at the beginning (left) and final stage (right) of the restoration process.

most famous sections
Most famous sections
  • the Creation of Adam
  • Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden
  • the Great Flood
  • the Prophet Isaiah
  • the Cumaean Sibyl

The Cumaean Sibyl

The Libyan Sibyl

the last judgement
The Last Judgement
  • 1534 to 1541
  • Commissioned by Pope Paul III
  • Massive, spaning the entire wall behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel
  • A depiction of the second coming of Christ and the apocalypse; where the souls of humanity rise and are assigned to their various fates, as judged by Christ, surrounded by the Saints
  • Protestant reformation=salvation by faith


TheLast Judgment, altar wall of the Sistine Chapel Vatican City, Rome, Italy, 1536–1541*. Fresco, 48’ x 44’.

last great achievement
Last great achievement
  • In 1546, Michelangelo was appointed architect of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, and designed its dome.

Donato Bramante

  • Bramante expanded the applicability of classical architecture to contemporary buildings
the tempietto
The Tempietto
  • 1502 – designed & built the Tempietto of San Pietro
  • Influenced by Vitruvius and Alberti
  • One of the most harmonious buildings of the Renaissance
  • Despite its small scale, the construction has all the rigorous proportions and symmetry of Classical structures, surrounded by slender Doric columns, surmounted by a dome
st peter s basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica
  • 1503 - Pope Julius II engaged Bramante for the construction of the grandest European architectural commission of the 16th century, the complete rebuilding of St Peter's Basilica
  • For the main church of Roman Catholic Christendom, Bramante envisioned a centrally planned, domed, Greek-cross (equal-armed) structure
  • READ about me on page 679!!!!
the end
The end?
  • Raphael's death in 1520 and the sack of Rome in 1527 spelled the end of the High Renaissance.
  • By about the 1520s, High Renaissance art had become exaggerated into the style known as Mannerism.