When the Michelangelo is mentioned, one work that instantly springs to mind is his stunning fresco painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City. Commissioned by Pope Julius II and created between 1508 and 1512, this work, which depicts nine stories from the Book of Genesis, is considered to be one of the greatest works from the High Renaissance.
Michelangelo was apparently reluctant to take on this project as he believed he was a more accomplished sculptor than a painter, but he was obviously being very modest as this work continues to enthrall today with around 5 million people visiting the Sistine Chapel every year to see this masterpiece.
Michelangelo’s David, quite possibly the world’s most famous sculpture, was sculpted over the course of three years, beginning when the artist was just 26 years old. Unlike many earlier depictions of the biblical hero which portray David triumphant after his intense battle with Goliath, Michelangelo’s sculpture shows him in a tense, alert position prior to his legendary fight.
Originally positioned at Florence’s Piazza Della Signoria in 1504, the 14-foot sculpture was moved to Galleria dell’Accademia in 1873, where it remains to this day.
Michelangelo’s first large-scale sculpture Bacchus is, alongside Pieta, one of few sculptures that survived from his early days in Rome. It is also one of the few works that he did that focus on Pagan, rather than Christian subjects.
The statue, which depicts the Roman god of wine in a drunken state, was originally commissioned by Cardinal Raffaele Riario, but he rejected it. However, in the early 16th century, it found a home in the garden of banker Jacopo Galli’s Roman palace.
Since 1871, Bacchus has resided at Florence’s Museo Nazionale del Bargello, and is displayed alongside other works by the master including his Brutus bust and his unfinished sculpture, David-Apollo.
This was the only Michelangelo sculpture that made its way out of Italy during his lifetime; it was donated to its current home, Bruges’ Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady), in 1514 after the Mouscrons – a Belgian cloth merchant family – purchased the work sometime in the early 16th century.
On two occasions, the sculpture has been removed from the church, first during the French Revolutionary Wars, after which it was returned in 1815, only to be looted again by Nazi soldiers during World War II.
Texas’ Kimbell Art Museum has the honor of owning The Torment of Saint Anthony – the first known painting by Michelangelo – believed to have been painted when the artist was just 12 or 13 years old.
Created under the tutelage of his older friend Francesco Granacci, this painting has been cited by 16th-century artists and writers – Giorgio Vasari and Ascanio Condivi – Michelangelo’s earliest biographers – as an accomplished piece that creatively embellished upon Schongauer’s original engraving and achieved widespread recognition from peers.
This painting is the only known surviving panel paint by Michelangelo. It was painted for the wealthy Florentine banker Agnolo Doni, most likely to commemorate his marriage to his wife Maddalena, daughter of the prominent Tuscan noble family, the Strozzia.
Still in its original frame, a beautiful ornate wooden piece designed by Michelangelo as well, the work has resided at Galleria degli Uffizi since 1635 and is the only Michelangelo painting that can be found in Florence.
Located in Rome’s stunning Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli, Moses was originally commissioned in 1505 by Pope Julius II as part of his funeral monument, but it was not completed until after his death.
Chiselled from marble, this sculpture is notable for its inclusion of a pair of horns on Moses’ head – thought to be the result of a literal interpretation of the Vulgate, a Latin translation of the bible – and was intended to be joined by other works including the Dying Slave and Rebellious Slave, housed in the Louvre in Paris, France.
This was the final fresco that Michelangelo would paint during his lifetime. It resides in the Vatican Palace’s Cappella Paolina and was originally commissioned by Pope Paul III in 1541.
In contrast to many other Renaissance-era depictions of the saint, Michelangelo’s work focuses on a much darker subject matter – his death.
A five-year-long, $3.5 million restoration project that began in 2004 revealed a very interesting aspect of the fresco: researchers now believe that a blue turban-clad figure in the upper left-hand corner of the painting is actually the artist himself, which if correct would make this painting the only known Michelangelo-painted self-portrait in existence.