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15 Lesser Known Works of Art By the Great Michelangelo

 Two of the most famous and magnificent masterpieces of this world are the statue of David and the awe-inspiring ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. These two works of genius have not only fame in common, but their creator as well. Michelangelo (born Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni) was a multifaceted Italian Renaissance artist, painter, architect, and poet, best known for his beautiful sculptures.

Michelangelo’s works stretch far beyond his most famous and even include many beautiful buildings that still stand today. He continued to create his wondrous masterpieces until 6 days before his death at age 88. To honor that never-ending pursuit for beauty, here are 15 works of art created by Michelangelo, throughout his lifetime. 


1. Bacchus

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(By Attilios, Wikimedia Commons)

Bacchus is the Roman God of Wine and Fertility (Dionysus in Greek Mythology). This sculpture was created by Michelangelo in 1497 at the start of his career when he was only 21 years old. He depicts Bacchus here, with a goblet in one hand, and grapes in the other, slowly being pulled from his weakening grip by a faun (half-man, half-goat).

 

2. Madonna of Bruges

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(Wikimedia Commons)

The Madonna, Mary, is depicted here by Michelangelo with a tinge of a mother’s angst, holding her child, but looking down and away, as if struck by a premonition of what his fate is to be. This sculpture, completed by Michelangelo in 1504, was different from numerous other scenes of the mother and son, in which she was seen cradling him and smiling down at him. 

 

3. The Torment of Saint Anthony

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(By Michelangelo, Wikimedia Commons

This painting is believed to have been created by Michelangelo in his formative years when he was in his early teens. It was inspired by and mimicked the engraving by Martin Schongauer depicting Saint Anthony the Great being tormented mercilessly by demons while flying over the desert, where he was usually accompanied by angels.

 

4. Doni Tondo

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(By Michelangelo - Uffizi, Wikimedia Commons

Doni Tondo is a painting by Michelangelo, also known as the Holy Family, which, as the name would suggest, depicts the Holy Family: Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus. Believed to have been painted between 1504 and 1509, this painting was commissioned by famous merchant Agnolo Doni after his marriage.    

 

5. Pieta

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(By Stanislav Traykov, Niabot, Wikimedia Commons

Created between 1498 and 1499, the Pieta is regarded as one of Michelangelo’s greatest Renaissance pieces. In this incredible statue, Mother Mary is seen holding the lifeless body of her son. From the expression on Mary’s face to every detail of Christ’s corpse, this work of the then 23-year-old Michelangelo is considered as truly divine.

     

6. The Creation of Adam

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(By Michelangelo, Wikimedia Commons)

The Creation of Adam is one of the most replicated religious paintings of all time, and it is one of the most famous paintings of the Sistine Chapel, created between 1508 and 1512. It brings to life a story from the Book of Genesis in which God gives life to the first man, Adam. 

 

7. Moses

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(By Alvesgaspar, Wikimedia Commons

In 1505, Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Julius II to design and construct his tomb. However, shortly thereafter, the artist was commissioned to create the Sistine Chapel as well, after which he resumed work on the tomb in 1513. The original design for the tomb was to have over 47 statues, but in the end, a smaller two-tier monument was built to hold the Pope after his passing. At the center of the moment is a statue of Moses sitting and clutching the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments.  

 

8. Piazza del Campidoglio 

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(By Di Nicholas Gemini, Wikimedia Commons)

Let's move over to the highest of the seven hills of Rome, where Capitol Hill lies, also known as the Capitolium, or the Piazza del Campidoglio. A significant portion of not only the Piazza but the surrounding urban structures as well were designed by Michelangelo in the mid 16th Century, which, at the time, had an abundance of Medieval and Renaissance palaces. Now, the area stands as home to the Capitoline Museums. 

 

 
9. Santa Maria Degli Angeli e dei Martiri 

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(By dearbarbie, Wikimedia Commons

Another of the incredible constructs of Michelangelo, this Italian name translates to The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs. It was built from 1563 to 1564 and was designed by Michelangelo with a touch of uniqueness and a series of shaped spaces through each chamber. 

 

10. Dying Slave

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(By Michelangelo, Wikimedia Commons

This gift of the renowned artist, along with many others like Moses, was the first piece of a two-part set to be a part of the tomb of Pope Julius II, which Michelangelo was commissioned to design. This sculpture along with its sibling sculpture you'll see below was created between 1513 to 1516, and both are now held in the Louvre, Paris.  

 

11. Rebellious Slave

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(By Jörg Bittner Unna, Wikimedia Commons

The Rebellious Slave is the brother of the Dying Slave and together created what was believed to be a depiction of slavery in Italy at the time, though that is open to interpretation. The two Priglioni (slaves) were intended to be placed in the mausoleum but eventually made their way to the Louvre, Paris, by the mid 16th Century, to preserve their beauty. Unlike his lifeless brother, the Rebellious Slave pulls against the bonds enslaving him. 

 

12. Conversion of Saul

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(By Michelangelo, Wikimedia Commons)

This dramatic painting was commissioned by Pope Paul III during the 1540s, to be kept in the chapel of St. Paul, and is now in the Pauline Chapel of Vatican Palace, in none other than Vatican City. It depicts Saul of Tarsus, a man of Jewish faith who was previously known for prosecuting Christians, being caught by God and imbibed with the gift of divinity, transforming him into St. Paul, an apostle who went on to spread the word of Christ. 

 

13. Battle of the Centaurs

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(By I, Sailko, Wikimedia Commons

This incredible work of art was sculpted by Michelangelo at the young age of 15 and represented a turning point in life. It was his last creation while under the tutelage of Lorenzo de' Medici, a major player in the spread and empowerment of Renaissance Culture, who died shortly thereafter in 1492. It depicts a well-known battle in Greek Mythology between Centaurs and Lapiths, at the wedding of Pirithous, king of the Lapiths. 

 

14. Laurentian Library

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(By Richardfabi, Wikimedia Commons

Once again, the architectural genius of Michelangelo is astounding. Commissioned in 1523 by the Medici pope Clement VII, Michelangelo designed this wondrous and historic house of books, which was a huge part of the rise of Mannerism, the style developed during the late Renaissance period, and heavily influenced by the work of  Michelangelo. 

 

15.Tondo Pitti

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(By shakko, Wikimedia Commons

This work of art was created by Michelangelo in the early 16th Century and was yet another piece engraved in marble, his favorite material for sculpting. In this piece, the Virgin Mary holds the infant Jesus, who rests his head on the open book in her arms, which is believed to be a symbol for wisdom. 

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