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History Renaissance/Michelangelo


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Michelangelo Buonarroti
Michelangelo was a famous sculptor and painter from Florence. A difficult man to get along with, he was commissioned to paint the Sistine Chapel's ceiling.
Giuliano da Sagallo
an architect for Pope Julius who helped Michelangelo correct errors in his preparation of the plaster and addition of paint adhesives.
Donato d' Angelo Lazzari (Bramante)
A sort of 'producer' for the Pope's artistic projects, he recruited artists and directed the work.
Pope Julius II
A warrior as well as religious leader, he led multiple campaigns to reclaim the Church's territory. He also commissioned the painting of the Sistine Chapel and the relocation of the Pope's living quarters.
- Sistine Chapel -
The Pope's private chapel in the Vatican.
Domenico Ghirlandaio
Leader of the workshop where Michelangelo studied and learned to fresco.
Leonardo da Vinci
Great artist and engineer, competed with Michelangelo and was the inspiration for Raphael's work.
Lodovico Buonarroti
Michelangelo's father, he died in 1531 at age 87
Louis XII
King of France and a threat to the reign of Pope Julius. There were many pro-French bishops and rebellious Italian states who would side with Louis in war.
Raffaello Santi (Raphael)
A brilliant, sociable young artist from Urbino who was commissioned to fresco the Pope's apartments. He became Michelangelo's main competitor in Rome.
Desiderius Erasmus
a scholar and writer visiting Rome, he condemned the Pope and Roman society in "The Praise of Folly" and "Julius Excluded from Heaven"
Alfonso d'Este
The duke of Ferrara, ally of the Pope in defeating the rebellious Venetians, defied Julius and was attacked by the Pope's army.
Martin Luther
Harsh critic of the Vatican and Rome's authority over the church. Led the protestant reformation.
1. How did Michelangelo develop the reputation as the greatest sculptor in Europe? (chapter 1)
Michelangelo first gained fame by carving the Pieta. This sculpture was considered by many not only the greatest of its time, but the greatest of all time. His next work, the sculpture David, would solidify his reputation as the greatest sculptor in Europe.
2. Why did Pope Julius IT begin plans to rebuild St. Peter's basilica? What made the commission for its renovation such a coveted one? (chapter 1)
The Pope wanted to be buried at St. Peters because it was such a great church, however at the time he was making plan for his burial St. Peters began falling apart. So he had it rebuilt. St. Peters was a coveted commission for two reasons. 1) It was one of the oldest and holiest churches in all of Christiendom. 2) The architect who won the commission would be able to employ a bunch of people to make the design happen and would therefore be able to help his friends and "be the man".
3. According to a biography written by one of his students, why did Michelangelo receive the commission to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? How historically accurate is that view? (chapters 2 and 5)
According to the biography:
Donato Bramante was afraiad that if Michelangelo finished the Pope's tomb he would surpass him as the greatest and most sought after artist in Europe so he told to the Pope to give Michelangelo the commission because he figured that Michelangelo would refuse it, and therefore make the Pope angry, or that Michelangelo would take it and then mess it up since he had no real frescoe experience, and then either way Michelangelo would lose the opportunity to work on the tomb, and Bramante would have one less competitor to worry about.

Historicaly acurate version:
Bramante advised against Michelangelo painting the ceiling because he knew Michelangelo had little experience and didn't want to see it screwed up.
4. Describe the origins and the design of the Sistine Chapel. Why was the original fresco on its ceiling severely damaged only twenty years after it was completed? (chapter 2)
This was an old chapel built in the 1470’s by Pope Julian’s uncle who was also a Pope, Pope Sixtus. The interesting thing about this chapel was that it was designed after the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, but it was also designed to be a fortress. At their base, the walls were 10 feet thick. There was a walkway lining the roof where sentinels (army guards) could walk around and keep watch from. There were even arrow slits for archers to shoot their bows and arrows from, and special holes for dumping out burning hot oil onto people below.

The problem was that the soil underneath the church was soft and over time one of the thick ass walls had begun to bow outward and was taking the roof with it. While the problem was stabilized, there were still some pretty big cracks that had appeared on the ceiling
5. How did Julius IT raise funds for the expensive construction of St. Peter's? (chapter 3)
Julius offered people the chance to pay their friends or relatives way out of purgatory, a sentence that was normally calculated to be around 9,000 years.
6. Describe the artistic medium of fresco. Why was it so popular in Renaissance Italy? What makes it so difficult? (chapter 5)
Fresco is the process of painting in wet plaster. It was difficult because there was a limited range of colors that could be used and the chemical composition of the fresco had to be balanced or paints/plaster would react badly, grow mildew, etc...
8. What subject matter did Michelangelo choose for the chapel's ceiling? Explain in detail. (chapter 6)
Michelangelo chose scenes from Genesis including Noah and the Flood, the Creation of Adam, the Creation of Eve, and the Expulsion from teh Garden of Eden. He also painted many figures- saints and sibyls (oracles).
9. Describe the Buonarroti family. How prominent were they? What were some of the struggles they faced? Be specific in your answer. (chapters 3 and 8)
According to Michelangelo the Buonarroti family were descendants of the noble house of Canossa. However, they were not very prominent because Michelangelo would talk about wanting to restore the glory of the family name.

The problems the family faced:

1) Michelangelo wanting to become an artist. Artists, at least the non-famous ones, were looked down upon as tradesmen, this was not a noble profession. Michelangelo would be beaten by his father and uncle when told them he wanted to become an artist.

2) Michelangelo's brothers, Buonorroto and Giovansimone. These two weren't really doing much with themselves except occasionally trying to ride Michelangelo's coattails and bringing a bad name to the family for being lazy screw-ups.

3) Aunt Cassandra: Aunt Cassandra decided to seu the family for her dowry after her husband, Francesco (Michelangelo's uncle he used to beat him) died.
10. What popular story about Michelangelo's painting of the Sistine Chapel is probably a myth? Why? (chapter 9)
Michelangelo did not paint the ceiling himself- he had a team of assistants- and he was not working on his back. the scaffolding was far enough from the ceiling to allow a man to stand upright.
) 11. What was the subject and composition of Michelangelo's first paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? How was it similar to his earlier works? (chapter 9)
Michelangelo first painted "Noah's Flood". It allowed him to reuse figures from "The Battle of Cascini" and "The Battle of the Centaurs"
12. How did Raphael gain part of a commission to fresco the pope's apartment? (chapter 10)
Raphael was already a well-known young painter when he was recruited by Bramante to fresco part of the pope's apartment. He had come to Rome after leaving an apprenticeship in Perugia.
13. Describe the personal habits of Michelangelo. Why might he have been a difficult person to work with? How was he different from Raphael? (chapters 11 and 12)
Michelangelo did not bathe or change his clothes regularly. He spent most of his time alone, showed little or no interest in women, and was often melancholy. Raphael was the opposite- fun-loving, romantic, always the center of attention, and relatively handsome.
14. How does Raphael's work Temptation in the Garden reflect the themes of the Renaissance? Where did Raphael get the inspiration for the figure of Eve? (chapter 12)
Raphael portays a female serpant watching as Eve offers the forbidden fruit to Adam. This reflects the Renaissance idea that sin originated with Eve- the weakness of women. Raphael's Eve was based on a 'contrapposto' figure by Leonardo da Vinci.
15. How does the painting The Flaying of Marsyas reflect the competition between Sodoma and Raphael? (chapter 12)
The Flaying of Marsyas shows Marsyas about to be skinned alive after losing a musical contest with Apollo. In a similar way, the newcomer Raphael soon bested his counterpart, Sodoma, putting the former star out of a job.
16. How did Erasmus criticize the church in The Praise of Folly and Julius Excluded from Heaven? (chapter 17)
Erasmus criticized corruption and ignorance among the bishops and priests as well as the war-like nature of Pope Julius.
17. In his fresco The School of Athens, how does Raphael pay homage to Bramante, da Vinci, and himself? Why is the painting an expression of how Raphael viewed the status of artists? (chapter 18)
In "the School of Athens" Raphael portrays Leonardo as Plato, Bramante as Euclid, and himself as a student of Ptolemy. Raphael viewed artists as receiving inspiration from teachers- mentor and apprentice- just as had the philophers.
18. How does Michelangelo interpret the Eve story differently? (chapter 19)
Michelangelo portrays a much more assertive Adam- standing above Eve and reaching for his own forbidden fruit- in a sexually dominant position.
19. How do the bronze-colored medallions flanking The Creation of Eye not only attempt to educate illiterate pilgrims but also warn about the dangers of heresy? (chapter 20)
the medallions depict scenes of divine retribution against enemies of the Church, appropriate topics during the turbulent reign of Julius II.
20. How did Julius get into a bloody conflict with the French? (chapter 20)
Julius began a military campaign against Ferrara in 1510. He had not yet received reinforcements from the Swiss and soon his army was bogged down in rain and mud.
21. Why did Martin Luther visit Rome in 1510? What were his impressions of the city and the church officials he saw there? (chapter 21)
Martin Luther was sent to Rome as a companion for a fellow Augustinian monk. The two were sent there to lodge a complaint about reforms within the augustinian order. He was excited to be in Rome at first, however ended up saying that it was a dump and that the church officials there were ignorant.
22. Why did the Holy Roman Emperor summon a General Council of the Church? Why was this a cause for concern to Julius? (chapter 22)
The General Council was often used to make significant changes to the doctrine/power structure of the church, even to the point of deposing a pope and replacing him with someone else.
23. According to Condivi, Michelangelo's biographer, who attempted to steal his commission to paint the Sistine Chapel? Why? (chapter 23)
Raphael supposedly tried to secure the commision for the second half of the chapel ceiling after seeing the first half. The publicity for the Sistine Chapel would be far greater than for Raphael's work in the Pope's private 'Stanza della Segnatura'
24. What additions to The School of Athens did Raphael make in the autumn of 1511? How did Michelangelo inspire this effort? (chapter 23)
Raphael added a portrait of the solitary philospher Heraclitus of Ephesus, known as 'the thinker'. This is thought to represent Michelangelo- a form of tribute after seeing the Sistine Chapel fresco- because Heraclitus was a loner and melancholy like 'M'
25. Why is Raphael's work beautiful and Michelangelo's sublime? (chapter 23)
Beauty applies to “the properties of smoothness, delicacy, softness of color, and elegance of movement,” while the sublime “comprehends the vast, the obscure, the powerful, the rugged, the difficult- attributes which produce in the spectator a kind of astonished wonder and even terror.
26. Why is The Creation of Adam seen as the centerpiece of Michelangelo's work? How has its interpretation changed over the years? (chapter 24)
Michelangelo's portrayal of The Creation of Adam is entirely original. The finger-to-finger life-giving touch and God's appearance and pose were not traditional. In fact, early on people did not correctly identify 'the old man flyind through the air' as God- it was not common. This scene became iconic only in recent years with a focus on the finger-to-finger touch (which is actually partially a replacement piece of art)
27 . What were the consequences of Julius' death in 1513? (chapter 31)
Julius had a huge funeral where even his enemies cried for him.

Shortly after Julius died, Giovanni de’ Medici was elected Pope and took the name Leo X. Pope Leo gave Michelangelo a new contract to carve Julius’ tomb, now with more money (16,500 ducats) going to Michelangelo. Michelangelo finally returned to carving the Pope's tomb.
28. Describe the lives of Michelangelo and Raphael after their work on the Sistine Chapel was completed. (epilogue)
Raphael died at the age of 37 after serving as chief architect and having many love affairs. Michaelangelo followed with a long career of notable works until he died at the age of 88.
29. Why was the recent renovation of Michelangelo's ceiling so controversial? What did it reveal? (epilogue)
The recent renovation involved a serious scouring of the fresco- removing dirt and grime and possibly some original elments of the work itself. Critics contend that the restorers were destroying part of Michelangelo's original work. Proponents claim that they only removed later additions and pollution.
The renovation revealed bright colors, the presence of many different artists under Michelangelo's command, and his increasing mastery of 'buon fresco' technique.

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