Michelangelo was one of the greatest geniuses of the Italian Renaissance, and his name is synonymous with one of the greatest and most important artists of all time. Here we will present the seven most emblematic works of the artist that everyone should explore in
1. Madonna of the stairs
The Madonna or Virgin of the stairs is a low relief in marble carved between 1490 and 1492. The work was completed before Michelangelo turned 17, while still studying in the gardens of the Medici, in Florence, with Bertolo di Giovanni.
This low relief depicts the Virgin sitting on stairs holding and covering her son, who lies asleep. The size of the relief is 55.5 × 40 cm. It is now preserved in Casa Buonarroti, Florence.
The stairs complete the rest of the background and, in the background, you can see two children playing, while a third child rests on the handrail.
This work highlights the heritage of classical Antiquity. For this reason, it includes the concept of ataraxia, typical of epicurean philosophy. It is notorious.
The difference between this concept and apathy is that in ataraxia, there is no denial or elimination of feelings. However, it promotes happiness, trying to find the strength to overcome pain and difficulties.
Thus, the Virgin is impassive in contemplating the future sacrifice of her son, not because this does not make her suffer, but because she finds a way to overcome this pain stoically.
For the realization of this low relief, Michelangelo made use of the technique of Donatello (Italian Renaissance sculptor, 1386-1466), called sticiatto (flattened).
The size of the relief is 84.5 × 90.5 cm and is preserved in Casa Buonarroti, Florence. The art was made after the Madonna of the Stairs. Centauromaquia (battle of the centaurs) is a marble relief executed around 1492 when Michelangelo still roamed the gardens of the Medici.
It depicts the episode between the centaurs and the pencils, when, at the wedding of Princess Hypodamia and Pirítou, king of the pencils, one of the centaurs tried to kidnap the princess, which resulted in a battle.
The bodies are twisted and tangled, which makes it difficult to distinguish who is who. Linked to each other, some defeated on the ground, all convey despair in the middle of the battle.
With this work, the young Michelangelo already assumes his obsession with nudes. For him, human beauty was an expression of the divine. Thus, contemplating a work that represents that beauty through nakedness is contemplating the greatness of God.
In 1501 Michelangelo returned to Florence and began working on David. It is a marble sculpture with more than four meters made between 1502 and 1504. Now, the art is preserved in Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence.
The moment of the scene chosen by Michelangelo is just before the confrontation between David and Goliath. In this way, Michelangelo does not represent a successful David, but a young man full of anger and willingness to face his oppressor.
The David is a fascinating example of the force that drives the work of this artist, whether in the choice of total nudity, or inner turmoil that transmits the figure.
5. Tondo Doni
For Michelangelo, the pictorial technique that could be closer to the superiority of the sculpture would be the fresco. Due to its characteristics, it requires speed and precision. However, it wouldn’t allow errors, corrections, or repainting.
Thus, it is not surprising that in one of the few mobile pictorial works attributed to the artist, Tondo Doni, Michelangelo has used a mixture of tempera and oil on wood in tondo (in a circle).
This work was done between 1503 and 1504. It represents the Sagrada Familia in a very unconventional way. The diameter is 120cm, and you can find it in the Galleria Degli Uffizi, Florence.