Renaissance and Reformation Michelangelo Buonarroti
by
William Wallace
  • LAST REVIEWED: 17 May 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0103

Introduction

Michelangelo Buonarroti (b. 1475–d. 1564) is universally recognized to be among the greatest artists of all time. His life extended from the glories of Renaissance Florence and the discovery of the New World to the first stirrings of the Counter-Reformation—nearly eighty-nine years, and twice as long as most of his contemporaries. Michelangelo witnessed the pontificates of thirteen popes and worked for nine of them. Although his art occasionally has been criticized (he was accused of impropriety in the Last Judgment), his stature and influence have rarely been questioned. Many of his works—including the Vatican Pietà, David, Moses, and the Sistine Chapel ceiling—are ubiquitous cultural icons. Despite the familiarity of Michelangelo’s art and a large quantity of documentation, many aspects of his art and life remain open to interpretation. The bibliography on Michelangelo is enormous, and fortunately much of it is of excellent quality. Some of the best scholarly minds and most distinguished historians, art historians, and literary and cultural historians have contributed significantly to our understanding of the artist, his work, and his times.

Bibliographies

The bibliography on Michelangelo began in his lifetime and has increased steadily in the more than five hundred years of writing about the artist. By 1970 the number of scholarly books and articles exceeded four thousand items. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries the literature has grown exponentially, with a notable increase in English-language publications. There are two published annotated bibliographies of Michelangelo scholarship by highly respected scholars. Steinmann and Wittkower 1967, which covers publications from 1510 until 1926, is continued by Dussler 1974, covering books and periodical literature in all languages published between 1927 and 1970. While technically not a comprehensive bibliography in the manner of the others, Wallace 1995 provides a convenient, organized introduction and orientation to the enormous English-language periodical literature on Michelangelo.

  • Dussler, Luitpold, ed. Michelangelo-Bibliographie, 1927–1970. Wiesbaden, Germany: Otto Harrassowitz, 1974.

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    A continuation of Steinmann and Wittkower 1967 covering the years 1927 to 1970, with 2,220 annotated entries in alphabetical order (by author) and a good index.

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  • Steinmann, Ernst, and Rudolf Wittkower, eds. Michelangelo-Bibliographie, 1510–1926. Römische Forschungen der Bibliotheca Hertziana 1. Hildesheim, Germany: Georg Olms Verlag, 1967.

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    Two distinguished scholars compiled this invaluable annotated bibliography of publications on Michelangelo in all languages, numbering 2,107 entries in alphabetical order (by author) with a good index. Originally published in 1927.

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  • Wallace, William E., ed. Michelangelo: Selected Scholarship in English. 5 vols. New York and London: Garland, 1995.

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    Reprints of approximately one hundred articles written in English, offering a representative sample of old and new literature on the artist and his work, arranged by subject. An affordable, one-volume selection is William E. Wallace, ed., Michelangelo: Selected Readings (New York and London: Garland, 1999).

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Notable Exhibitions and Catalogues

There has been a spate of Michelangelo exhibitions in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, partly because he is guaranteed to draw large crowds. Exhibitions have proven to be one of the more important venues for new scholarship, for example, on the relationship of Michelangelo and Vittoria Colonna (Ferino-Pagden 1997). Millon and Smyth 1988 is a catalogue of a pioneering exhibition of Michelangelo’s architecture in conjunction with a complementary exhibition of figural drawings. Bissonenette 1992 explores the essentially “sculptural” nature of Michelangelo’s production and includes much related material by other artists. Brandt 1999 concentrates on the artist’s early years. Ruschi 2007 focuses on four projects at San Lorenzo and Ciulich 1989 on the evolution of Michelangelo’s handwriting. The exhibitions represented by Falletti and Katz 2002 and Buck 2010, while ostensibly focused on single works, also brought together a large amount of related material.

  • Bissonenette, Denise L., ed. Michelangelo: The Genius of the Sculptor in Michelangelo’s Work. Translated by Maurizia Binda. Montreal: Museum of Fine Arts, 1992.

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    Published simultaneously in French as Michel-Ange: Le génie du sculpteur dans l’oeuvre de Michel-Ange 1992. Major loan exhibition of Michelangelo drawings and related prints, small sculptures, and paintings exploring the premise that sculptural thinking was primary to Michelangelo’s creative process. Essays and catalogue entries written by a large team of international scholars.

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  • Brandt, Kathleen Weil-Garris, ed. Giovinezza di Michelangelo. Florence and Milan: Artificio Skira, 1999.

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    Catalogue of a high-profile exhibition first held in Florence in 1999–2000, centered on a sensational if controversial attribution of a rediscovered marble figure in New York. The blockbuster show and catalogue brought together a number of works by Michelangelo and his contemporaries in an effort to clarify the artist’s early years.

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  • Buck, Stephanie, ed. Michelangelo’s Dream. London: Paul Holberton, 2010.

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    Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Courtauld Gallery focused around Michelangelo’s drawing of The Dream (Il sogno) and including other presentation drawings (Ganymede, Tityus, Bacchanal of Children, and Fall of Phaethon) as well as related prints and drawings. Good focused essays by Stephanie Buck, Michael Bury, Joanna Milk MacFarland, Francoise Viatte, and Matthias Vollmer.

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  • Ciulich, Lucilla Bardeschi, ed. Costanza ed evoluzione nella scrittura di Michelangelo. Florence: Cantini, 1989.

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    A pioneering exhibition at the Casa Buonarroti using documents and drawings to trace the evolution of Michelangelo’s handwriting and writing mannerisms over the full span of his life. A biography of the artist as revealed in his writing.

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  • Falletti, Franca, and Jonathan Nelson Katz, eds. Venere e amore: Michelangelo e la nuova bellezza ideale/Venus and Love: Michelangelo and the New Ideal of Beauty. Florence: Giunti, 2002.

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    Bilingual exhibition catalogue exploring themes of Venus and love in the art and poetry of Michelangelo and his circle of humanist friends. Highlights include the exhibition of the newly conserved Venus and Cupid (Accademia Gallery, Florence, Italy), a collaboration between Michelangelo and Pontormo, and a discussion of many related works.

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  • Ferino-Pagden, Sylvia, ed. Vittoria Colonna: Dichterin und Muse Michelangelos. Vienna: Kunsthistorisches Museum, 1997.

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    Catalogue of a superb exhibition focused on Michelangelo’s friend and spiritual muse Vittoria Colonna. Featured items include letters, drawings, documents, and objects that were exchanged during the friendship. Essays by a number of leading scholars, including Ferino-Pagden, Romeo de Maio, Carlo Vecce, Emidio Campi, Michael Hirst, Gigliola Fragnito, and Leatrice Mendelsohn.

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  • Millon, Henry A., and Craig Hugh Smyth. Michelangelo Architect: The Facade of San Lorenzo and the Drum and Dome of St. Peter’s. Milan: Olivetti, 1988.

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    See also Michael Hirst, Michelangelo Draftsman (Milan: Olivetti, 1988). Catalogue for a two-part exhibition held at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, the largest gathering of the artist’s work mounted to date in the United States. In addition, Jane Roberts contributed a slim but useful accompanying volume, A Dictionary of Michelangelo’s Watermarks (Milan: Olivetti, 1988). A coinciding symposium brought together an international group of scholars, resulting in a related volume of essays (Smyth 1992, cited under Anthologies).

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  • Ruschi, Pietro, ed. Michelangelo architetto a San Lorenzo: Quattro problemi aperti. Florence: Mandragora, 2007.

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    Attractive and focused catalogue of an exhibition of drawings, books, and other materials at the Casa Buonarroti with sections devoted to four “open problems” at San Lorenzo: (1) New Sacristy (Pietro Ruschi), (2) Laurentian Library vestibule (Silvia Catitti and Thomas Gronegger), (3) “secret library” (Pietro Ruschi), and (4) Reliquary Tribune (Mauro Mussolin).

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Anthologies

This section introduces two types of publication. First, there are collections of essays by individual scholars (Parronchi 1968–2003, Wilde 1978, Gilbert 1994) who have repeatedly published on Michelangelo. The second group brings together a number of scholars (at exhibitions, symposia, and so forth) and essays, often on widely divergent subjects, methods, and character (Michelangelo 1965, Stil und Überlieferung in der Kunst des Abendlandes, Smyth 1992, and Rohlmann and Thielemann 2000). Panofsky 1972 deserves separate mention for the incalculable influence that the author’s iconological method has had on Michelangelo studies and art history generally.

  • Gilbert, Creighton, ed. Michelangelo On and Off the Sistine Ceiling: Selected Essays. New York: George Braziller, 1994.

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    A reprint of some previously published and some new or revised essays on a variety of topics with a substantial introduction. Included are important contributions on the David and the drawing of Furia as well as four essays regarding different aspects of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

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  • Michelangelo. The Complete Work of Michelangelo. New York: Reynal, 1965.

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    Published also in Italian (Michelangelo: Artista, Pensatore, Scrittore [Novara, Italy: Istituto geografico de Agostin, 1965]) and German (Michelangelo: Bildhauer, Maler, Architekt, Dichter [Wiesbaden, Germany: Vollmer, 1966]). Large-format folio volume published in honor of the four hundredth anniversary of Michelangelo’s death (1564). Particularly valuable for the many excellent essays written by a distinguished group of art and literary historians, including Charles de Tolnay, Umberto Baldini, Roberto Salvini, Guglielmo de Angelis d’Ossat, Eugenio Garin, Enzo Girardi, Giovanni Nencioni, and Francesco de Feo.

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  • Panofsky, Erwin. Studies in Iconology: Humanistic Themes in the Art of the Renaissance. New York: Harper and Row, 1972.

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    Included in this groundbreaking book is the long and influential essay “The Neoplatonic Movement and Michelangelo,” a classic study of Michelangelo’s intellectual formation and how it was manifested in his art. Translated into a number of languages, the book continues to influence Michelangelo studies and art historical methodology. First published in 1939 (New York: Oxford University Press).

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  • Parronchi, Alessandro. Opere giovanili di Michelangelo. 6 vols. Studi (Accademia Toscana di Scienze e Lettere La Colombaria). Florence: Olschki, 1968–2003.

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    Published over a span of thirty-five years, these volumes are filled with essays on a huge variety of topics, many of which concern lost and rediscovered works by Michelangelo, primarily from his youth, hence the title. While scholars have often doubted Parronchi’s attributions, his versatility and creativity are breathtaking.

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  • Rohlmann, Michael, and Andreas Thielemann, eds. Michelangelo: Neue Beiträge; Akten des Michelangelo-Kolloquiums veranstaltet vom Kunsthistorischen Institut der Universität zu Köln im Italienischen Kulturinstitut Köln, 7.-8. November 1996. Munich and Berlin: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2000.

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    New research on Michelangelo first presented in a colloquium held in Cologne in 1996. Essays on a variety of topics offer a snapshot of current research among German-language scholars, including Claudia Echinger-Maurach, Wiebke Fastenrath, Sabine Poeschel, Michael Rohlmann, Kerstin Schwedes, Christina Strunck, Andreas Thielemann, and Michael Wiemers.

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  • Smyth, Craig Hugh, ed. Michelangelo Drawings. Proceedings of a symposium held in Washington, DC, 7–8 October 1988. Studies in the History of Art 33. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1992.

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    Published papers from the international symposium held in conjunction with the major loan exhibition of Michelangelo drawings held at the National Gallery of Art (see Millon and Smyth 1988, cited under Notable Exhibitions and Catalogues). Notable contributions on diverse topics by a distinguished group of established and younger scholars of Michelangelo.

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  • Stil und Überlieferung in der Kunst des Abendlandes. Vol. 2, Michelangelo. Berlin: Verlag Gebr. Mann, 1967.

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    A volume of published essays in English, Italian, and German on a variety of Michelangelo and related topics by a distinguished group of scholars, based on papers presented at the International Congress of Art History in 1964, the four hundredth anniversary of the artist’s death.

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  • Wilde, Johannes. Michelangelo: Six Lectures by Johannes Wilde. Oxford: Clarendon, 1978.

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    A slim volume of six published lectures on Michelangelo by a distinguished scholar. Together these eminently readable essays provide an introductory overview of the artist, his life, and his work. The first chapter on the biographies written by Giorgio Vasari and Ascanio Condivi is particularly valuable, as is Wilde’s lucid discussion of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

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Biographies

Prior to the modern age, biographies were generally written after the deaths of their subjects. Remarkably, three lives of Michelangelo were penned in his own lifetime, the most important of which were written by the artist and writer Giorgio Vasari (Vasari 1965, cited under Michelangelo by His Contemporaries) and Michelangelo’s friend and pupil Ascanio Condivi (Condivi 1999, cited under Michelangelo by His Contemporaries). While Michelangelo’s art has inspired a voluminous literature, there has not been a comparable glut of modern biographies.

Dictionary and Encyclopedia Articles

Even in our modern age of instant information, well-respected dictionaries and encyclopedias still provide useful, reliable, and carefully vetted overviews of the life and work of the artist by well-respected scholars (Gilbert 1988, Hughes and Elam 1996, Wallace 1999). Incorporating up-to-date scholarship and a deep familiarity and comprehension of the immense bibliography, such resources remain infinitely more accurate, balanced, and reliable than the ever-popular Wikipedia or other online but less carefully vetted sources of information.

  • Gilbert, Creighton E. “Michelangelo.” In The New Encyclopaedia Britannica. 15th ed. Vol. 24. Edited by Encyclopaedia Britannica, 55–60. New York: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1988.

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    Reprinted in Wallace 1995 (cited under Bibliographies). A good, reliable overview of the artist’s life and works by an eminent scholar of Michelangelo and Renaissance art. The Britannica remains one of the most esteemed and reliable reference works with a long and distinguished record of excellent scholarship.

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  • Hughes, Anthony, and Caroline Elam. “Michelangelo (Buonarroti).” In The Dictionary of Art. Vol. 21. Edited by Jane Turner, 431–461. London: Macmillan, 1996.

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    Two eminent scholars of Michelangelo teamed up to write a lengthy overview of Michelangelo’s life and art, including greater attention (by Elam) than Gilbert 1988 and Wallace 1999 to his architecture. The two authors again collaborated in significantly expanding the entry as well as updating the bibliography in Oxford Art Online.

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  • Wallace, William E. “Michelangelo Buonarroti.” In Encyclopedia of the Renaissance. Vol. 4. Edited by Paul F. Grendler, 122–129. New York: Scribner, 1999.

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    As in his biography (Wallace 2010, cited under Modern Biographies), Wallace’s overview of the artist and his work emphasizes the artist’s patrician attitudes and aspirations and how these affected his life, art making, and relations with patrons. The entry appears in a reliable general encyclopedia of the Renaissance, valuable for many related topics, edited by a doyen of the field.

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Michelangelo by His Contemporaries

We have numerous portraits of Michelangelo, more than of any other Renaissance artist, for which see Steinmann 1913 and Ragionieri 2008. Contemporary writers also wrote about the famous artist. The biographies written by his young admirers, Vasari 1965 and Condivi 1999, remain the most important and frequently consulted sources for Michelangelo’s life and art. The painter, architect, and writer Giorgio Vasari first published his Lives of the Most Excellent Architects, Painters, and Sculptors in 1550 and issued an expanded edition in 1568 (Vasari 1965). Although flattered by Vasari’s homage, Michelangelo wished to tell his own story, and thus he prevailed on his pupil and amanuensis Ascanio Condivi to write a life (Condivi 1999). In addition, the Portuguese artist Francesco de Hollanda (b. 1517–d. 1584) was another important contemporary witness, although his dialogues were not published until the 19th century (Hollanda 1998). For an understanding of the importance of these contemporary writers and their “invention” of Michelangelo, see Barolsky 1990 and Barolsky 1994.

  • Barolsky, Paul. Michelangelo’s Nose: A Myth and Its Maker. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1990.

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    In a lively and provocative study, Barolsky demonstrates how Michelangelo, with the complicity of his biographers (especially Giorgio Vasari), helped fashion his own myth—rich in imagination and fable. After Barolsky’s numerous publications, we should question the nature of Vasari as a “primary source” and more fully appreciate his literary genius.

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  • Barolsky, Paul. Faun in the Garden: Michelangelo and the Poetic Origins of Italian Renaissance Art. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994.

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    More than any other scholar, Paul Barolsky has changed the way we read our most important “primary sources,” Giorgio Vasari and Ascanio Condivi. This book, a pendant to Barolsky 1990, further explores the poetic imagination of Michelangelo’s autobiography, making us fully aware of how much biography is subject to literary fictions.

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  • Condivi, Ascanio. The Life of Michelangelo. 2d ed. Translated by Alice Sedgwick Wohl. Edited by Helmut Wohl. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.

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    Often considered a near “autobiography,” written by the friend, pupil, and secretary close to Michelangelo. This is a good English translation with useful notes that should be used in conjunction with an equally good Italian edition: Vita di Michelagnolo Buonarroti, edited by Giovanni Nencioni (Florence: Studio per edizioni scelte, 1998), with introductory essays by Michael Hirst and Caroline Elam.

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  • Hollanda, Francesco de. Diálogos em Roma (1538): Conversations on Art with Michelangelo Buonarroti. Edited by Grazia Dolores Folliero-Metz. Heidelberg, Germany: Universitätsverlag C. Winter, 1998.

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    A Portuguese artist who lived in Italy and was acquainted with Michelangelo and his circle of Roman friends in the 1530s, Hollanda wrote four dialogues of conversations that supposedly took place between Michelangelo, Vittoria Colonna, and others. While they are only imaginative reconstructions and compilations, Hollanda’s dialogues are often treated as a primary source.

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  • Ragionieri, Pina, ed. Il volto di Michelangelo. Florence: Mandragora, 2008.

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    Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Casa Buonarroti illustrating the life and look of Michelangelo through prints, drawings, paintings, and related works, documents, and books. Of particular interest is the reproduction of anecdotal paintings from the 19th century illustrating different facets of the growing myth of Michelangelo.

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  • Steinmann, Ernst. Die Portraitdarstellungen des Michelangelo. Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max-Planck-Institut. Leipzig: Klinkhardt and Biermann, 1913.

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    Steinmann offers a “visual biography” of Michelangelo by reproducing portraits of the artist in all media (busts, reliefs, drawings, cameos, paintings, prints) from the 1520s to the late 19th century. A large folio volume with 107 plates and commentary on each image. Since this is now a rare book, see also Ragionieri 2008.

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  • Vasari, Giorgio. Vasari’s Lives of the Artists. Edited by George Bull. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1965.

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    A good English translation based on Vasari’s second edition (1568) in an affordable paperback. It is also important to compare Vasari’s first (1550) and second editions (1568), for which see La vita di Michelangelo nelle redazioni del 1550e del 1568, edited by Paola Barocchi, 5 vols. (Naples, Italy: Riccardo Ricciardi, 1962), with extensive commentary. The 1550 and 1568 editions of Vasari are searchable online.

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Modern Biographies

Spurred in part by the four hundredth anniversary celebrations of Michelangelo’s birth in 1875, biographies of Michelangelo proliferated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in German (Grimm 1874), English (Symonds 1893), and Italian (Papini 1952). For the fascinating historiography of Michelangelo biographies, see Parker 2010 (cited under Michelangelo as Writer). More than scholars may care to admit, the popular image of Michelangelo has been much influenced by Irving Stone’s wildly popular novel The Agony and the Ecstasy (1961), published in some fifty languages and still in print. Modern biographers (Beck 1999, Bull 1995, Forcellino 2009, Wallace 2010) have to contend with Stone’s fictional portrait as well as the inordinate influence of Giorgio Vasari and Ascanio Condivi (see Michelangelo by His Contemporaries). Using the methodology of psychoanalysis, Liebert 1983 is a biography that is wholly different in method and interpretation from most others.

  • Beck, James. Three Worlds of Michelangelo. New York and London: Norton, 1999.

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    Beck focuses on three men who most helped to shape Michelangelo’s early career and personality: his father, Lodovico Buonarroti; the great Renaissance Maecenas Lorenzo de’ Medici; and the imperious pope Julius II. By seizing on clues found in contemporary documents, Beck relates an unorthodox account of Michelangelo’s life, from his childhood to the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

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  • Bull, George. Michelangelo: A Biography. London: Viking, 1995.

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    George Bull is a distinguished translator of Renaissance texts, including Giorgio Vasari and Ascanio Condivi as well as Benvenuto Cellini and Baldesar Castigilione. His biography of Michelangelo is largely a composite of these sources with the addition of much background history.

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  • Forcellino, Antonio. Michelangelo: A Tormented Life. Translated by Allan Cameron. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2009.

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    First published in Italian (Michelangelo: Una vita inquieta [Rome: Laterza, 2005]), this popularizing biography portrays Michelangelo as a deeply troubled and rapaciously greedy artist. Strong focus on the 1530s and 1540s as a period of turbulence and crisis as well as a religious turning point for Michelangelo. A professional conservator, Forcellino has extensive knowledge of artistic materials and techniques, which is reflected in his discussion of Michelangelo’s art.

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  • Grimm, Hermann. The Life of Michelangelo. 7th ed. 2 vols. Translated by Fanny Elizabeth Bunnett. Boston: Little, Brown, 1874.

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    Originally published in German (Leben Michelangelo’s [Hannover, Germany: C. Rümpler, 1868). This old but still valuable life and times of Michelangelo is based on primary documentary research, in part from the valuable cache of letters and documents preserved in the archives of the Casa Buonarroti, Florence.

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  • Liebert, Robert S. Michelangelo: A Psychoanalytic Study of His Life and Images. New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 1983.

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    Liebert, a professionally trained psychoanalyst, wrote a carefully researched and compelling psychoanalytic interpretation of Michelangelo’s art and life. It is one of the best art historical books written from the perspective of psychoanalysis, but one fears for its progeny, as Paul Joannides wrote in a review.

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  • Papini, Giovanni. Michelangelo: His Life and His Era. Translated by Loretta Murnane. New York: Dutton, 1952.

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    Originally published in Italian in 1949. A good and much-overlooked contribution, especially valuable for the capsule biographies of Michelangelo’s many friends, patrons, assistants, and personal as well as professional associates.

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  • Symonds, John Addington. The Life of Michelangelo Buonarroti. 2 vols. London: John C. Nimmo, 1893.

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    Excellent and sensitive biography of the artist, still relevant and readable although more than one hundred years old. Available in an affordable reprint of the third edition with a new introduction by Creighton Gilbert (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001).

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  • Wallace, William E. Michelangelo: The Artist, the Man, and His Times. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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    A highly accessible modern biography placing the artist within his social, political, and artistic context. Featured aspects include the extensive citation of Michelangelo’s correspondence and contemporary documents as well as the emphasis on the artist’s aristocratic aspirations, the importance of his family, his wide circle of friends and acquaintances, and the artist’s redefinition of the relationship between artist and patron.

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Primary Sources

Michelangelo is the best-documented artist of the early modern era. Nearly 1,400 letters written by him and to him survive, along with more than three hundred pages of his personal and professional records (ricordi) and an extensive correspondence among members of his immediate family (440 letters). In addition, Michelangelo left some three hundred poems, many fragments, approximately six hundred drawings, and of course the finished and unfinished works of sculpture, painting, and architecture. Then there are related documents: contracts, business and bank records, a nearly complete picture of the artist’s finances and property holdings, and innumerable notices by his contemporaries. Most of these primary sources are available in superb critical editions, and the poetry is available in numerous translations.

Correspondence, Documents, and Records

The modern scholar is fortunate that all of the most important documents associated with Michelangelo have been published. Barocchi and Ristori 1965–1983 offers a superb and reliable modern critical edition of all of Michelangelo’s correspondence, thus superseding but not replacing the letters, documents, and contracts published in Milanesi 1875 (different selection, transcriptions, and dating). In the same series (initiated by Renzo Ristori), Ciulich 1970 is a volume of Michelangelo’s miscellaneous records; Barocchi, et al. 1988–1995 comprises two volumes of the correspondence among Michelangelo’s family members, and Ciulich 2005 is a volume of the artist’s contracts. Ramsden 1963 presents the nearly five hundred letters written by Michelangelo in a good English translation. Based on extensive archival research, especially into bank and property records, Hatfield 2002 offers a detailed picture of Michelangelo’s finances and investments.

  • Barocchi, Paola, Kathleen Bramanti, and Renzo Ristori, eds. Il carteggio indiretto di Michelangelo. 2 vols. Florence: Studio per Edizioni Scelte, 1988–1995.

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    The 440 letters exchanged among members of Michelangelo’s immediate family, not always mentioning the artist but invaluable for the insights afforded into social and family history. As was noted in a review, these represent “one of the most important caches of documents regarding the domestic (or family) history of late medieval or early modern Florence.”

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  • Barocchi, Paola, and Renzo Ristori, eds. Il carteggio di Michelangelo. 5 vols. Florence: Sansoni Editore, 1965–1983.

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    All of the letters written by Michelangelo (c. five hundred) as well as the greater number addressed to him (c. nine hundred) in a dependable and finely produced critical edition by two exceptional Renaissance scholars. Michelangelo’s correspondence is now available online.

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  • Ciulich, Lucilla Bardeschi, ed. I ricordi di Michelangelo. Florence: Sansoni Editore, 1970.

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    Michelangelo’s miscellaneous writings, including everyday accounts, expenses, notes to himself and to fellow workers, employment rosters, lists, memoranda, and more. A gold mine of the everyday concerns and activities of the famous artist, helping humanize him and portray him as much more like his contemporaries.

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  • Ciulich, Lucilla Bardeschi, ed. I contratti di Michelangelo. Florence: Studio per Edizioni Scelte, 2005.

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    All of Michelangelo’s contracts in a reliable critical edition. A more complete and modern updating of Milanesi 1875, a pioneering publication.

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  • Hatfield, Rab. The Wealth of Michelangelo. Studi e Testi del Rinascimento Europeo 16. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2002.

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    On the basis of extensive research in the Italian archives, Hatfield has given us a detailed picture of Michelangelo’s finances and investments. A rich scholarly apparatus of tables and documents supports the picture of an extremely wealthy artist who was personally frugal and occasionally dishonest in the loose management of his finances.

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  • Milanesi, Gaetano, ed. Le lettere di Michelangelo Buonarroti coi ricordi ed i contratti artistici. Florence: Le Monnier, 1875.

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    Pioneering publication of Michelangelo’s letters, records, and contracts published on the four hundredth anniversary of the artist’s birth. In a large-format, luxurious publication. Still useful for Milanesi’s notes, alternative transcriptions, and dating of documents.

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  • Ramsden, E. H., trans. The Letters of Michelangelo. 2 vols. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1963.

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    Nearly five hundred letters and drafts written by Michelangelo in a good English translation. Ramsden also offers much information in annotations to the letters as well as a series of forty-four excellent appendixes on a variety of relevant topics, such as Buonarroti and Medici genealogies, Michelangelo’s investments, Renaissance currency and banking, the dowry system, and the political scene.

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Poetry

In all of history there have been few artist-poets. Michelangelo is certainly one of the most important poets of the Renaissance and was recognized as such in his lifetime. The artist intended to publish a selection of his poems and was actively assisted in this endeavor by his close friend Luigi del Riccio; however, the latter’s unexpected death in 1546 prompted the artist to abandon the project. Not until 1623 did Michelangelo’s grandnephew, Michelangelo the Younger, publish a selection of 137 poems. Since that time, a distinguished line of individuals has translated some or all of Michelangelo’s poetry, with Girardi 1960 remaining the standard critical edition. Students and scholars have a selection of available translations of widely differing character, from those by art historians and literary scholars that strive for literal accuracy and faithfulness to meaning (Gilbert 1980, Ryan 1996, Saslow 1991) to professional translators (Alexander 1991, Mortimer 2007) to the freely artistic interpretations in Nims 1998.

  • Alexander, Sidney, trans. The Complete Poetry of Michelangelo. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1991.

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    A good English translation by a long-term resident of Florence, with a facility and ear for Michelangelo’s difficult colloquial Italian. Himself the author of three books of poetry, Alexander is well qualified to render Michelangelo’s verse into English.

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  • Gilbert, Creighton, trans. Complete Poems and Selected Letters of Michelangelo. 3d ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980.

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    The complete poems of Michelangelo translated into English with a selection of 116 of Michelangelo’s letters also translated. Handy, affordable volume, now in paperback and still in print.

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  • Girardi, Enzo N., ed. M. Buonarroti, Rime: Edizione critica. Scrittori d’Italia 217. Bari, Italy: Laterza, 1960.

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    The essential critical edition of Michelangelo’s poetry and the most often cited. In many cases, Girardi constructed and reconstructed “finished” poems from fragmentary verses or alternative lines. Many other editions, in various languages, follow Girardi’s reconstructions, and most utilize his numbering of the poems (in a chronological order determined by Girardi).

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  • Mortimer, Anthony, trans. Poems and Letters: Selections, with the 1550 Vasari Life. London: Penguin, 2007.

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    Mortimer, a translator also of Petrarch, offers highly accomplished translations of 302 Michelangelo poems as well as a selection of seventy-one letters. The edition is particularly valuable for its inclusion of Vasari’s 1550 Life of Michelangelo, which is not as frequently read nor as readily available in English as the longer second edition of 1568.

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  • Nims, John Frederick, trans. The Complete Poems of Michelangelo. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

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    A sensitive if somewhat free translation using modern colloquialisms by an eminent contemporary poet. Particularly good at capturing the burlesque character of some of Michelangelo’s poetry.

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  • Ryan, Christopher, trans. The Poems. London: Dent, 1996.

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    Facing Italian text and English translations of some 302 poems and 41 fragments capturing the original in vigorous modern English. Christopher Ryan also wrote an interpretive book, The Poetry of Michelangelo: An Introduction (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1998), but Clements 1966 (cited under Michelangelo as Writer) is still better.

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  • Saslow, James, trans. The Poetry of Michelangelo: An Annotated Translation. New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 1991.

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    Like Ryan 1996, the original Italian texts face good, workable English translations. Particularly useful are Saslow’s notes to individual poems and his general introduction to Michelangelo’s poetry, which includes a history of translations and editions.

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Michelangelo as Writer

Like William Blake, Michelangelo has been subdivided into two artists: a visual artist thoroughly studied by art historians (see Michelangelo’s Art) and a writer and poet mostly examined by literary scholars (Clements 1966, Cambon 1985, Parker 2010). Few scholars are equipped to analyze both dimensions of the artist’s production equally well, and fewer still articulate how the two aspects are related. Clements 1966 primarily analyzes the poetry but also argues that it provides insights into Michelangelo’s life and art. Parker 2010 analyzes Michelangelo the writer and suggests interrelations with his art. Barkan 2010 finds the interrelationships between Michelangelo the writer and poet and Michelangelo the artist to be a central feature of his creativity and a key to his inner life. In analyzing the extensive correspondence between Michelangelo and his nephew, Wallace 2006 opens a window on family life, contemporary attitudes, and everyday concerns.

  • Barkan, Leonard. Michelangelo: A Life on Paper. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010.

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    Barkan, an accomplished scholar of Renaissance literature and poetry, deftly moves between Michelangelo’s writing and drawing, between word and image. Reveals the artist in his full complexity by thoroughly analyzing pieces of paper that combine both writing and drawing. Barkan is particularly keen to uncover the unconscious motivations and workings of Michelangelo’s mind.

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  • Cambon, Glauco. Michelangelo’s Poetry: Fury of Form. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985.

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    Along with Clements 1966, a study of the form and character of Michelangelo’s poetry by a scholar of Italian literature. Examines the roots of Michelangelo’s poetry in Petrarchism and Florentine Neoplatonism. Close textual analysis of interrelated poems reveals Michelangelo to have been a true nonconformist.

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  • Clements, Robert J. The Poetry of Michelangelo. London: New York University Press, 1966.

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    An interpretive study of the artist’s poetry, providing insights into Michelangelo as thinker, lover, religious believer, and especially as artist. His analysis of the poems reveals that Michelangelo’s poetry is an extraordinary combination of learning, coarseness, humor, anguish, and devout Christian faith.

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  • Parker, Deborah. Michelangelo and the Art of Letter Writing. New York and Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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    The author demonstrates the largely unrealized significance of Michelangelo’s extensive correspondence and his skill as a letter writer. She suggestively draws parallels between the written and visual arts and offers a fascinating historiography, which reveals how the correspondence (and its availability to scholars) has been utilized and sometimes mishandled in constructing biographies of Michelangelo.

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  • Wallace, William E. “‘The Greatest Ass in the World’: Michelangelo as Writer.” Norman and Jane Geske Lecture. Lincoln: College of Fine and Performing Arts, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 2006.

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    A thirty-four-page published lecture focused on Michelangelo’s multiple contributions as a writer, especially as exemplified in the more than two hundred letters the artist wrote to his nephew, Lionardo, advising him on marriage prospects, property investments, and general comportment as a member of an aristocratic lineage.

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Politics, Philosophy, and Religion

Politics, philosophy, and religion were not entirely separable in the Renaissance. Indeed, Neoplatonism actively sought to reconcile different philosophical and religious traditions in a blending of pagan and Christian learning. Likewise, contemporary politics was deeply inflected by religion and philosophy. Spending approximately two years in the Medici household and exposed to the most brilliant thinkers of the day, Michelangelo received the beginnings of a humanist education, which had a profound effect on his thinking, poetry, and art making. While Michelangelo wrote a lot (more than any other Renaissance artist except Leonardo da Vinci), he did not consider himself “learned” in the traditional sense, that is, having a facility with Latin and familiarity with the great works of Latin and Greek literature and philosophy. However, the artist’s own intellectual modesty has not prevented scholars from trying to reconstruct Michelangelo’s philosophy and “theory of art” (Clements 1961, Summers 1981). Equally important were Michelangelo’s religious convictions, forged in Florence under Girolamo Savonarola and deepening with time. He was powerfully affected by his friendship with Vittoria Colonna (Colonna 2005) and her sympathy with the reform movement in the church, discussed in De Maio 1981 and Forcellino 2009. Dixon 1994 and Verdon 2005 offer sustained meditations on Christ and Christian thought in Michelangelo’s art, while Spini 1966 outlines Michelangelo’s political formation and convictions. Although the artist was deeply attached to the notion of a free republican Florence, he worked successfully for patrons on both sides of the political spectrum. The best and most succinct introduction to these diverse topics is still Tolnay 1969.

  • Clements, Robert J. Michelangelo’s Theory of Art. New York: Gramercy, 1961.

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    A study of Michelangelo’s thought and aesthetics as formulated and informed by contemporary writing and thinking and as expressed in his art. Although Michelangelo was not a systematic thinker and never articulated a coherent “theory of art,” Clements nonetheless shows the degree to which the artist was shaped by the intellectual currents of his time.

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  • Colonna, Vittoria. Sonnets for Michelangelo: A Bilingual Edition. Edited and translated by Abigail Brundin. Other Voice in Early Modern Europe. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2005.

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    A bilingual edition of a Vatican manuscript with 103 poems by Vittoria Colonna, Michelangelo’s friend and spiritual muse. Believed to be the very manuscript that Colonna presented to Michelangelo as a gift c. 1540 and among the artist’s most cherished possessions. An excellent introduction to Michelangelo’s relationship with Vittoria Colonna and the historical context of their significant friendship.

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  • De Maio, Romeo. Michelangelo e la Controriforma. Bari, Italy: Laterza, 1981.

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    Based on extensive documentary research, this study examines Michelangelo’s relationship with the persons and institutions central to the Roman, Italian, and European Counter-Reformation. Argues for the autonomy of Michelangelo’s conscience and intellect but also investigates contemporary reactions to his art.

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  • Dixon, John W., Jr. The Christ of Michelangelo: An Essay on Carnal Spirituality. South Florida–Rochester–Saint Louis Studies on Religion and the Social Order 6. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1994.

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    Confronting the paradox of Michelangelo’s profound spirituality and carnal imagery (prevalence of the male nude, the unusual character of Michelangelo’s Madonnas, and so forth), Dixon examines the theological and Neoplatonic underpinnings of the master’s art. This is an extended essay in three parts: “Sistine Chapel,” “Medici Chapel,” and the “Late Style.”

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  • Forcellino, Maria. Michelangelo, Vittoria Colonna e gli “spirituali”: Religiosità e vita artistica a Roma negli anni Quaranta. Corte dei Papi 18. Rome: Viella, 2009.

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    Contributes significant new insights into the debate regarding Michelangelo’s relations with the Italian Reform movement, the “spirituali” in the 1540s. Special attention devoted to the works that Michelangelo made for Vittoria Colonna as well as to the contemporaneous tomb of Pope Julius II that Michelangelo was commissioned to sculpt, here seen in the context of spiritual reform.

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  • Spini, Giorgio. “Politicità di Michelangelo.” In Atti del convegno di studi michelangioleschi, Firenze-Roma 1964. Edited by Convegno di Studi Michelangioleschi, 110–170. Rome: Edizioni dell’Anteneo, 1966.

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    The most thorough discussion of Michelangelo’s politics, its foundation in his family history, and his lifetime attachment to the reality and myth of an independent Florentine republic. A naturally cautious individual, Michelangelo successfully navigated between contending political factions and managed a career working for both sides of the political spectrum.

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  • Summers, David. Michelangelo and the Language of Art. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981.

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    An examination of the significant words and concepts used by Michelangelo and his contemporaries to discuss and write about art. A magisterial study tracing the evolution of this language from classical Antiquity through the traditions of philosophy, rhetoric, poetry, and medieval artisanship to illuminate their meaning in the Renaissance and for Michelangelo in particular.

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  • Tolnay, Charles de. The Art and Thought of Michelangelo. Translated by Nan Buranelli. New York: Pantheon, 1969.

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    A slim volume with excellent, broad-ranging essays that provide intelligent and synthetic overviews of four broad topics: “Michelangelo’s Political Opinions,” “Michelangelo’s Philosophy,” “Michelangelo’s Religious Outlook,” and “Michelangelo’s Artistic Convictions.”

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  • Verdon, Timothy. Michelangelo teologo: Fede e creatività tra Rinascimento e Controriforma. Milan: Àncora Editrice, 2005.

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    A series of studies, some published previously but here reworked and expanded, on the theology behind Michelangelo’s profoundly Christian art, written with great insight and sensitivity by an individual with unique dual credentials. Verdon is a professional art historian as well as an ordained Catholic priest.

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Family, Friends, and Rivals

While Michelangelo’s family has been discussed by biographers (see Biographies), it is only recently that the family has been treated with greater sympathy and as a central feature of the artist’s lifelong ambition to “raise up” his family and ensure its propagation. Similarly, Michelangelo’s many friends often have been marginalized, although Steinmann 1932 recognizes the central importance of Luigi del Riccio as friend and business associate. Frommel 1979 highlights Michelangelo’s passionate friendship with Tommaso de’ Cavalieri, which resulted in some of the artist’s greatest poetry and most beautiful drawings. Goffen 2002 explores the opposite side, the agnostic picture of Michelangelo’s rivalries, especially with Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Titian, and sees these rivalries as key to artistic achievement.

  • Frommel, Cristoph Luitpold. Michelangelo und Tommaso dei Cavalieri. Amsterdam: Castrum Peregrini, 1979.

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    A slim but valuable volume on the all-important relationship between Michelangelo and his Roman patrician friend Tommaso de’ Cavalieri. Frommel, one of the most distinguished art historians of his generation, employs new documentary research and characteristically careful analysis to relate the history of the friendship and to examine the remarkable series of drawings and love poetry that it generated.

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  • Goffen, Rona. Renaissance Rivals: Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Titian. New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 2002.

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    Using a wide variety of primary and secondary sources, the author demonstrates the extent to which artists, as well as their patrons and colleagues, thought about art making in terms of rivalry. By examining the numerous intersections among four major Renaissance masters, Goffen shows how rivalry was key to their creative enterprise.

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  • Steinmann, Ernst. Michelangelo e Luigi del Riccio: Con documenti inediti. Florence: Vallechi Editore, 1932.

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    Based largely on correspondence, much of it transcribed in three separate appendixes and some illustrated in the plates, Steinmann offers a history of one of Michelangelo’s most important friendships as well as a biographical portrait of del Riccio, who was Michelangelo’s companion, business adviser, and first poetry editor.

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Michelangelo’s Art

Although it was common for Renaissance artists to work in several media, few artists either before or after Michelangelo proved as versatile in so many different arenas of creative activity. Although best known as a marble sculptor and painter, Michelangelo was also an important architect and an accomplished draftsman as well as a poet and an engineer. There is a plethora of good books on Michelangelo’s art, ranging from large and luxuriously produced coffee-table picture books to monographic overviews and more focused scholarly studies. Michelangelo’s art has also attracted a number of professional photographers; therefore, his art is readily accessible in high-quality reproductions. Thode 1902–1913 and Tolnay 1969–1971 are the two most comprehensive and still-fundamental surveys of Michelangelo’s art. Einem 1973, Hibbard 1974, Murray 1984, and Hughes 1997 are four reliable, single-volume overviews of the artist’s life and work. Zöllner, et al. 2007 is the most recent, largest, and most luxuriously produced survey of Michelangelo’s art, including his drawings. A more focused study, Hall 2004, considers the artist’s preoccupation with the human body and sees it as central to understanding his art.

  • Einem, Herbert von. Michelangelo. Rev. ed. Translated by Ronald Taylor. London: Methuen, 1973.

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    Originally published in German (Stuttgart, 1959). Along with Hibbard 1974, Murray 1984, and Hughes 1997, the best single-volume chronological survey of Michelangelo’s life and work, including good discussions of his architecture.

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  • Hall, James. Michelangelo and the Reinvention of the Human Body. London: Chatto and Windus, 2004.

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    A highly idiosyncratic examination of Michelangelo’s preoccupation with the human body as the focal point of the artist’s quest for psychological and spiritual meaning. As a contemporary reviewer noted, occasional good observations do not wholly rescue a book marred by tendentious overinterpretation.

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  • Hibbard, Howard. Michelangelo. New York: Harper and Row, 1974.

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    An affordable single-volume study of Michelangelo’s life and works. Not quite as detailed or art historical as Einem 1973 but a wonderfully synthetic view of the artist’s life, works, and times written in an immensely accessible prose style. Still the best introduction for most undergraduate and graduate students.

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  • Hughes, Anthony. Michelangelo. Art and Ideas. London: Phaidon, 1997.

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    An accessible single-volume contextual study of Michelangelo’s life and works. Up-to-date, informative, and free of jargon, by a well-informed scholar conversant with the most recent scholarship. Part of a series of attractive and affordable paperbacks by Phaidon.

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  • Murray, Linda. Michelangelo: His Life, Work, and Times. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1984.

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    A readable and reliable account of the life, times, and works incorporating extensive quotations from Michelangelo’s correspondence and other contemporary documents, usefully translated into English. Well illustrated with images of contemporary figures and historical events, many in color.

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  • Thode, Henry. Michelangelo und das Ende der Renaissance. 6 vols. Berlin: G. Grote, 1902–1913.

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    The last three volumes of this work, under the separate title Kritische Untersuchungen über seine Werke, form a critical catalogue of Michelangelo’s sculpture, painting, architecture, and drawings. Partly because of the rarity of these volumes, Tolnay 1969–1971 has largely superseded Thode as the most often cited fundamental source on Michelangelo; however, Thode remains valuable.

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  • Tolnay, Charles de. Michelangelo. 5 vols. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969–1971.

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    The most complete and still standard resource on Michelangelo by the doyen of the field. The five volumes cover “Youth,” “The Sistine Ceiling,” “Medici Chapel,” “Tomb of Julius II,” and “The Final Period,” with other artwork discussed in the chronologically relevant volume. Tolnay never wrote the intended sixth volume on Michelangelo’s architecture, for which, see Ackerman 1961 (cited under Architecture). Originally published by Princeton University Press in 1943–1960.

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  • Zöllner, Frank, Christof Thoenes, and Thomas Pöpper. Michelangelo 1475–1564: Complete Works. Cologne: Taschen, 2007.

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    A truly massive (18.5 pounds) and lavishly produced, large-format folio volume. Superb color reproductions of all of Michelangelo’s works with many details. Includes illustrations of 535 drawings, but controversially, three-quarters of the attributions to Michelangelo are questioned by Pöpper, although without the supporting arguments to justify the radical revision.

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Sculpture

Sculpture was Michelangelo’s preferred medium and, other than the Sistine Chapel, the work that is most familiar to the public (e.g., Vatican Pietà, David, Moses). Thanks to modern photography and publishing, a wide selection of books reproduces Michelangelo’s sculptures in detail and from multiple views in high-quality photographs. These range from complete catalogues with useful information (location, dimensions, subject, and so forth) and numerous good-quality images (Baldini 1982, Acidini Luchinat 2005) to more focused discussions of Michelangelo’s work, especially in the context of his contemporaries (Pope-Hennessy 1986, Weinberger 1967, Poeschke 1996). Wittkower 1977 is an accessible introduction to the entire subject of sculpture, from Antiquity to modern times.

  • Acidini Luchinat, Cristina. Michelangelo scultore. Milan: Federico Motta Editore, 2005.

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    A beautifully produced, large-format book with multiple views and many details of Michelangelo’s sculptures by a well-known photographer of the artist, Aurelio Amendola. A serious work of scholarship that is generously comprehensive in covering Michelangelo’s oeuvre, including several controversial attributions. Acidini Luchinat 2007 (cited under Painting) is a companion volume on Michelangelo’s painting.

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  • Baldini, Umberto. The Sculpture of Michelangelo. Translated by Clare Cooper. New York: Rizzoli, 1982.

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    Translated from Italian (Michelangelo scultore [Florence: Sansoni, 1981]). A complete catalogue of Michelangelo’s sculptures with 219 black-and-white plates, including many details. Expands on the information (material, dimensions, dates, and discussion) first published by Baldini in the slim volume L’opera completa di Michelangelo scultore (Milan: Rizzoli, 1973), Volume 68 of the affordable Classici dell’Arte series.

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  • Poeschke, Joachim. Michelangelo and His World: Sculpture of the Italian Renaissance. Translated by Russell Stockman. New York: Abrams, 1996.

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    Translated from German (Michelangelo und seine Zeit [Munich: Hirmer, 1992]). Comprehensive and extensively illustrated study of Italian sculpture, 1490–1560, with emphasis on Michelangelo; also treats nineteen of his contemporaries in detail, including Jacopo d’Antonio Sansovino, Benvenuto Cellini, Bartolommeo Bandinelli, and Bartolomeo Ammannati, with biographies and representative examples of their works.

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  • Pope-Hennessy, John. High Renaissance and Baroque Sculpture. 3 vols. London and New York: Phaidon, 1986.

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    Fundamental broad survey of Renaissance sculpture by a distinguished scholar, with a good section devoted to Michelangelo and his contemporaries. Broader in scope than Poeschke 1996. An advantage of Pope-Hennessy is this scholar’s critical acumen and trenchant observations.

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  • Weinberger, Martin. Michelangelo the Sculptor. 2 vols. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967.

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    An examination of Michelangelo’s sculpture with many illustrations; a good complement to Tolnay 1969–1971 (cited under Michelangelo’s Art) and Pope-Hennessy 1986 but with sometimes less reliable interpretations of the facts, meaning, and chronology of Michelangelo works. Focuses primarily on the first half of Michelangelo’s career, up through his work on the Medici Chapel, but includes completion of the tomb of Pope Julius II.

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  • Wittkower, Rudolf. Sculpture: Processes and Principles. Icon Editions. New York: Harper and Row, 1977.

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    Following a chronological framework, Wittkower examines well-known works from the archaic period of Greece to 1960s America, focusing on sculptors’ techniques and working methods. Two good chapters on Michelangelo and his contemporaries, Benvenuto Cellini and Giorgio Vasari. The text has the immediacy and accessibility of published lectures; an excellent introduction for both undergraduate and graduate students.

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Specialized Studies

Many scholars, rather than writing surveys, take up specific issues or projects in Michelangelo’s sculptural oeuvre. Seymour 1974 is the best introductory study (something of a classic) of Michelangelo’s David. Verspohl 2001 contributes a more focused study of the same work, with emphasis on its conflicted political context. Mancusi-Ungaro 1971 examines two lesser-known commissions from this same period: the Bruges Madonna and the Piccolomini altar. Echinger-Maurach 2009 contributes a magisterial monographic study of the long, complicated history of the tomb of Pope Julius II. Balas 1995 contributes an iconographical study of Michelangelo’s well-known Medici Chapel. Panofsky 1991 offers a book-length study of a lesser-known work, the Risen Christ, and Wasserman 2003 is a monograph on one of Michelangelo’s final sculptures, the Florentine Pietà. Scigliano 2005 makes us appreciate the difficulties of quarrying and working with marble, Michelangelo’s preferred material.

  • Balas, Edith. Michelangelo’s Medici Chapel: A New Interpretation. Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society 216. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1995.

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    In the iconological tradition of Erwin Panofsky and Charles de Tolnay, Balas contends that Michelangelo conceived the Medici Chapel as a cryptic world of potent allegorical images intelligible primarily to an intellectual elite steeped in the philosophy and values of Renaissance Neoplatonism.

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  • Echinger-Maurach, Claudia. Michelangelo’s Grabmal für Papst Julius II. Munich: Hirmer, 2009.

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    Based on the author’s published doctoral dissertation (Studien zu Michelangelos Juliusgrabmal [Hildesheim, Germany: Olms, 1991]), this is a comprehensive monographic study of the tomb of Pope Julius II by a leading German scholar of Michelangelo. Given the importance of the Julius tomb in Michelangelo’s oeuvre, Echinger-Maurach proves a reliable guide through the complicated history and many permutations of this forty-year project. A beautifully produced book with superb black-and-white photographs and many details.

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  • Mancusi-Ungaro, Harold R., Jr., Michelangelo: The Bruges Madonna and the Piccolomini Altar. New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 1971.

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    Still the most comprehensive study of two important works: the Bruges Madonna and the figures Michelangelo carved for the Piccolomini Altar in Siena. While few scholars have followed Mancusi-Ungaro’s hypothesis that the Bruges Madonna was intended for the altar, the book is still valuable for its discussion of these early works and the publication of numerous documents.

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  • Panofsky, Gerda Soergel. Michelangelos Christus und sein römischer Auftraggeber. Römische Studien der Bibliotheca Hertziana 5. Worms, Germany: Wernersche Verlagsgesellschaft, 1991.

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    A monographic study of the history of Michelangelo’s commission to carve a Risen Christ for the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. Particularly valuable aspects of this study are Panofsky’s extensive archival and prosopographical work establishing the relations among the group of Roman patrician families that commissioned the sculpture as well as her iconographic discussion of the controversial statue.

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  • Scigliano, Eric. Michelangelo’s Mountain: The Quest for Perfection in the Marble Quarries of Carrara. New York: Free Press, 2005.

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    From the Medici to Henry Moore, from ancient Rome to the Renaissance to the modern quarry workers of Carrara, Scigliano weaves a compelling narrative of marble, the mountains, and Michelangelo. Highly readable account of Michelangelo’s preferred medium and the difficulties attendant to working in marble.

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  • Seymour, Charles, ed. Michelangelo’s David: A Search for Identity. A. W. Mellon Studies in the Humanities. New York: Norton, 1974.

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    A collection of documents and essays about the commission, history, and meaning of the David. Seymour’s long introduction is a tour de force general overview, valuable to scholars and students alike. The book’s accessibility and utility are proved in the classroom: it is still the best single place to begin research on this famous sculpture.

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  • Verspohl, Franz-Joachim. Michelangelo Buonarroti und Niccolò Machiavelli: Der David, die Piazza, die Republik. Kleine Politische Schriften 7. Bern, Switzerland: Stämpfli Verlag, 2001.

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    A book-length study developed from an article by Verspohl first published in the journal Städel Jahrbuch 7 (1981): 204–246. Discusses the inner relations between Michelangelo’s concept of art, as it was embodied in the David, and Niccolò Machiavelli’s political theory. Both reflect the new civic self-consciousness of the Florentines.

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  • Wasserman, Jack, ed. Michelangelo’s Florence Pietà. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003.

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    A monograph devoted to the sculpture that Michelangelo initially carved to mark his own grave. A substantial introduction relates the history of the commission and its long afterlife, covering topics such as the work’s subject, form, function, destruction, reconstruction, and critical reception. Essays by Franca Camiz on the sculpture in Rome, Timothy Verdon on the religious meaning, and Peter Rockwell on Michelangelo’s carving techniques.

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Painting

Although Michelangelo complained that painting was not his métier (“non sia mia arte”), he nonetheless created masterpieces in tempera (Doni Tondo) and fresco (Sistine and Pauline chapels). Although he painted much less than he carved, the literature reveals a bias in favor of painting, largely because of the inordinate amount of scholarly and popular attention lavished on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (see Sistine Chapel Ceiling). As with Michelangelo’s sculptures, there are good books reproducing Michelangelo’s paintings with many details in high-quality photographs. These range from Camesasca 1966, valuable mainly for its many illustrations and catalogue entries (location, dimensions, subject, and so forth), to more luxuriously produced monographs (Mariani 1964, Acidini Luchinat 2007) that survey the artist’s painting oeuvre.

  • Acidini Luchinat, Cristina. Michelangelo pittore. Grandi Libri D’arte. Milan: Federico Motta Editore, 2007.

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    A companion volume comparable in format and production value to Acidini Luchinat’s study of Michelangelo’s sculpture (see Acidini Luchinat 2005, cited under Sculpture). This is the best and most recent overview of Michelangelo’s painterly production, with many photographs of his paintings and related drawings in excellent color reproductions.

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  • Camesasca, Ettore. The Complete Paintings of Michelangelo. Classics of the World’s Great Art. New York: Abrams, 1966.

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    A slim affordable volume, valuable primarily for the many photographic illustrations and catalogue raisonné listing and illustrating all the works by and attributed to Michelangelo with useful information, including material, dimensions, dates, and brief discussions.

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  • Mariani, Valerio. Michelangelo the Painter. New York: Abrams, 1964.

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    Originally published in Italian (Michelangelo pittore [Milan: Arti grafiche Ricordi, 1964]). Large-format picture book with five introductory chapters and eighty-six large color plates with brief commentary. Especially valuable are the color reproductions of the Doni Tondo, the Sistine Chapel ceiling, the Last Judgment, and the Pauline Chapel frescoes prior to their conservation.

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Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is one of the holiest and most visited places on Earth. There is a constant flood of books—many worthless and others valuable mainly for their copious illustrations. One even can visit the chapel online in a self-controlled virtual tour with 360-degee viewing. Two of Michelangelo’s fresco projects are in the chapel, the most famous of which is the ceiling (1508–1512) with its indelible images of God’s Creation. Twenty-five years later, the artist returned to the chapel to paint the Last Judgment (1536–1541). Although the two projects are distinctly different in date, subject, style, and purpose, Pietrangeli 1986, Hall 2002, and Pfeiffer 2007 treat the chapel as a whole. Michelangelo 1994 is a two-part publication resulting from the conservation of the ceiling and subsequently the Last Judgment carried out between 1980 and 1994. Taken together, these five volumes include a full report on the conservation project, technical data, many photographs, and much new scholarship.

  • Hall, Marcia B. Michelangelo: The Frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. New York: Abrams, 2002.

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    A well-respected art historian contributes an intelligent and accessible introduction to the history of the two projects in the chapel: the ceiling and the Last Judgment. This book is a reliable scholarly guide to the history, iconography, and meaning of these all-important works, complemented by excellent-quality color photographs by Takashi Okamura.

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  • Michelangelo. La Cappella Sistina: Documentazione e interpretazioni. 3 vols. Novara, Italy: Istituto Geografico De Agostini, 1994.

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    The “final report” of the conservation campaign in the Sistine Chapel (1980–1989) followed by a similar final report on the conservation of the Last Judgment undertaken in 1990–1994, Michelangelo: La Cappella Sistina: Documentazione e interpretazioni (Novara, Italy: Istituto Geografico De Agostini, 1999). Beautifully produced volumes that include much technical information and the proceedings of the international conference of curators, scholars, conservators, and technicians.

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  • Pfeiffer, Heinrich W. The Sistine Chapel: A New Vision. Translated by Steven Lindberg. New York and London: Abbeville, 2007.

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    A lavishly illustrated volume that considers the entire suite of decorations in the Sistine Chapel, from the initial campaign of 1481–1482 under Pope Sixtus IV to Michelangelo’s Last Judgment (1536–1541). A learned if overly complicated argument for the theological and programmatic unity of the entire scheme over sixty years.

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  • Pietrangeli, Carlo, ed. The Sistine Chapel: The Art, the History, and the Restoration. New York: Harmony, 1986.

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    One of the first books spawned by the conservation of the Sistine Chapel ceiling (1980–1989). Lavishly illustrated essays on diverse topics by an international team of scholars, including André Chastel, John Shearman, John O’Malley, Michael Hirst, Pierluigi de’ Vecchi, Fabrizio Mancinelli, and the chief conservator, Gianluigi Colalucci.

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Sistine Chapel Ceiling

Like moths to light we gravitate, as tourists and scholars, to the Sistine Chapel ceiling. In many ways Michelangelo’s painted ceiling is a compendium of Michelangelo’s art, of the Renaissance, and of Christian theology. A survey of publications about Michelangelo reveals a distinct bias in favor of his work as a painter and specifically for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (see also Wallace 1995, cited under Bibliographies). Steinmann 1905 remains the foundational study on which many subsequent scholars have relied. Seymour 1972 and King 2003 offer general introductions to the history, decoration, and interpretations of the ceiling. Tolnay 1969 and Wind 2000 offer different approaches, although they share an emphasis on iconographic interpretation. The Sistine Chapel: A Glorious Restoration (Pietrangeli 1994) is one of the many books inspired by the conservation campaign (1980–1989), particularly valuable for its new pictures and diverse essays. The conservation of the ceiling, however, proved controversial, inspiring Beck and Daley 1996 on the “business and scandal” surrounding such high-profile restoration projects.

  • Beck, James, and Michael Daley. Art Restoration: The Culture, the Business, and the Scandal. New York: Norton, 1996.

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    Examines the issues raised by the restoration of art objects via techniques that may one day be recognized as damaging. Inquires into the social, cultural, and increasingly commercial factors that underlie a recent spate of restoration. Case studies with two of seven chapters devoted specifically to the Sistine Chapel.

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  • King, Ross. Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling. New York: Walker, 2003.

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    King, a successful fiction and nonfiction writer, offers a highly engaging account of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Largely intended for a general audience, King’s book is not an original work of scholarship; rather, it is a vivid narration of history founded on his extensive reading of the secondary literature.

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  • Pietrangeli, Carlo, ed. The Sistine Chapel: A Glorious Restoration. New York: Abrams, 1994.

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    One of the spate of books published in conjunction with the conservation of the Sistine Chapel ceiling (1980–1989), with nearly three hundred good-quality color photographs by Takashi Okamura and nine essays on various aspects of Michelangelo’s monumental undertaking (technique, drawings, assistants, costumes, and so forth) by respected scholars.

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  • Seymour, Charles, ed. Michelangelo: The Sistine Chapel Ceiling. Critical Studies in Art History. London: Thames and Hudson, 1972.

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    An illuminating and accessible introduction to this major monument. Includes an excellent introductory essay by Seymour, followed by a selection of contemporary documents and sources in translation, critical commentary, and four interpretive essays by modern scholars. A good place for students and scholars to begin research.

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  • Steinmann, Ernst. Die Sixtinische Kapelle. Vol. 2, Michelangelo. Munich: F. Bruckmann, 1905.

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    A rare book but still valuable for the publication of documents and overall organized presentation of the history and interpretation of the ceiling. Volume 1 of Die Sixtinische Kapelle discusses the chapel before Michelangelo; therefore, these two volumes together provide a complete history of the chapel and its decorations.

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  • Tolnay, Charles de. Michelangelo. Vol. 2, The Sistine Ceiling. 2d ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969.

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    Originally published in 1945. One volume of Tolnay’s magisterial overview of Michelangelo’s art (Tolnay 1969–1971, cited under Michelangelo’s Art) entirely devoted to the ceiling. As generally in his treatment of Michelangelo, Tolnay interprets the ceiling in light of contemporary Neoplatonic thought.

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  • Wind, Edgar. The Religious Symbolism of Michelangelo: The Sistine Ceiling. Edited by Elizabeth Sears. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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    Anthology of Wind’s published and unpublished writings on Michelangelo by one of the most respected scholars of the iconological method propagated by Aby Warburg and Erwin Panofsky. Introductory essays by Sears and John O’Malley place Michelangelo’s masterpiece and Wind’s scholarship into intellectual context.

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Last Judgment

Given that it was a lightning rod of controversy almost as soon as it was completed, the Last Judgment has inspired a long and interesting tradition of criticism and scholarly writing. As with the ceiling, the conservation campaign (carried out between 1990 and 1994) provided additional impetus to scholarship and spawned many picture books (e.g., Partridge, et al. 1997). Redig de Campos 1978 and Tolnay 1970 offer the best overall introductions to the documentation, history, and interpretation of the fresco. Barnes 1998 investigates the various audiences of the fresco, thereby demonstrating that responses and interpretations varied widely. The essays in Hall 2005 and the speculative argument in Shrimplin 2000, emphasizing a cosmological interpretation, exemplify the variety of analyses inspired by the controversial fresco.

  • Barnes, Bernadine. Michelangelo’s Last Judgment: The Renaissance Response. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

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    Barnes analyzes the Last Judgment and the historical context in which it was created and viewed by contemporaries. She broadens the view of Michelangelo’s creative process and investigates the multiple audiences (from educated insiders to a variety of less sophisticated audiences, often dependent on reproductions) that responded to and eventually censored the work.

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  • Hall, Marcia, ed. Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. Masterpieces of Western Painting. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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    An affordable paperback introduction. Hall contributes a long introductory overview as well as an essay on the resurrection of the body, William Wallace profiles Michelangelo’s life before and during the painting, Thomas Mayer and Melinda Schlitt consider the historical and religious circumstances and contemporary criticism, Margaret Kuntz discusses Michelangelo’s commission to work on the Pauline Chapel.

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  • Partridge, Loren, Fabrizio Mancinelli, and Gianluigi Colalucci. Michelangelo, The Last Judgment; A Glorious Restoration. New York: Abrams, 1997.

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    Conceived as a companion volume to The Sistine Chapel: A Glorious Restoration (Pietrangeli 1994, cited under Sistine Chapel Ceiling), this lavishly illustrated book features 150 high-quality photographs by Takashi Okamura. Includes an excellent and insightful essay by Loren Partridge as well as shorter contributions by Fabrizio Mancinelli and Gianluigi Colalucci, the Vatican’s former curator and chief conservator, respectively.

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  • Redig de Campos, Dioclecio. Michelangelo: The Last Judgment. Translated by Serge Hughes. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1978.

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    First published in Italian (Il Giudizio Universale di Michelangelo [Florence: Giunti, 1975]). A large-format, luxuriously illustrated volume in which Redig de Campos narrates the history of the commission and interprets the meaning and significance of the fresco with reference to contemporary sources. Particularly valuable are the supportive documentation and many color photographs of the fresco before the conservation campaign of 1990–1994.

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  • Shrimplin, Valerie. Sun Symbolism and Cosmology in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies 46. Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2000.

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    A controversial interpretation. Although Copernicus’s De revolutionibus was not published until 1542, Shrimplin argues that his theory of heliocentricity was circulating in Roman intellectual circles, was known to Michelangelo, and is reflected in the circular composition of the giant fresco.

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  • Tolnay, Charles de. Michelangelo. Vol. 5, The Final Period: Last Judgment, Frescoes of the Pauline Chapel, Last Pietas. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970.

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    First printed in 1954. One volume of Tolnay’s magisterial overview of Michelangelo’s art (Tolnay 1969–1971, cited under Michelangelo’s Art) devoted to the master’s late works, including the Last Judgment. Good place to begin research, because Tolnay offers a good review of previous scholarship as well as an examination of the fresco’s precedents and influence.

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Specialized Studies

A number of noteworthy publications have focused on particular works and problems within Michelangelo’s painting oeuvre. Although he claimed that painting was not his art (“non sia mia arte”), Michelangelo created some of the best-known and most carefully scrutinized painted images of Christian art: The Doni Tondo (Stefaniak 2008), the Sistine Chapel ceiling (see Sistine Chapel Ceiling), the Last Judgment (see Last Judgment), the Pauline Chapel (Steinberg 1975), and the still-controversial attribution of the Entombment currently held by the National Gallery in London (Hirst and Dunkerton 1994). In provocative studies, Steinberg 1980 investigates the connection between Michelangelo’s original compositions and his autobiography, while Nagel 2000 demonstrates how Michelangelo experimented radically with Christian imagery.

  • Hirst, Michael, and Jill Dunkerton. The Young Michelangelo: The Artist in Rome, 1496–1501. Making and Meaning Series. London: National Gallery, 1994.

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    Two-part study of Michelangelo’s early works. Hirst discusses the principal works of sculpture (Bacchus and Pietà) and the two unfinished paintings in the collection of London’s National Gallery, the Manchester Madonna and the Entombment. Dunkerton, a conservator, provides technical analyses of the two paintings, here attributed to Michelangelo himself.

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  • Nagel, Alexander. Michelangelo and the Reform of Art. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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    Nagel argues that Michelangelo, acutely conscious of living in an age of religious crisis and rapid artistic change, radically experimented with religious imagery, mingling a self-conscious archaism with aggressive innovation. A provocative, sometimes polemical, revisionist exploration of Michelangelo’s art.

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  • Stefaniak, Regina. Mysterium Magnum: Michelangelo’s Tondo Doni. Brill’s Studies in Intellectual History 164. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008.

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    An interpretation of the Doni Tondo as the “great sacrament” of marriage. With reference to writings of Saint Paul (Ephesians) and Marsilio Ficino, Mary is explicated as a paragon of virginity and a muscular mulier fortis (mighty mother) joined in spiritual union with Christ.

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  • Steinberg, Leo. Michelangelo’s Last Paintings: The Conversion of St. Paul and the Crucifixion of St. Peter in the Cappella Paolina, Vatican Palace. New York: Oxford University Press, 1975.

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    A monographic study of Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Pauline Chapel with penetrating analysis by a brilliant and imaginative scholar. The large-format book features color photographs and many details of these lesser-known late works of Michelangelo prior to their conservation in 2009. The book is still the best single study of this project.

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  • Steinberg, Leo. “The Line of Fate in Michelangelo’s Painting.” In The Language of Images. Edited by William J. T. Mitchell, 85–128. Phoenix Series. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.

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    Diagonals link figures of autobiographical significance in paintings in the Pauline Chapel, the Last Judgment, and three central frames of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Particularly innovative for adducing prints and copies as evidence, arguing that the “deviant rendering in the copy restores to the corresponding feature of the original the character of a decision.”

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Architecture

Although best known as a sculptor and painter, Michelangelo had his most widespread and long-lasting influence in the field of architecture. His buildings sowed the seeds for notably inventive architects of the baroque period, such as Gianlorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini. When Giorgio Vasari criticized Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library for its “license,” he was acknowledging that it had broken the rules of classical architecture as codified in the treatise written by the Roman author Vitruvius. Vasari correctly anticipated that Michelangelo’s unorthodox architecture would unleash his contemporaries from such stultifying “rules.” Ackerman 1961, Portoghesi and Zevi 1964, and Argan and Contardi 1993 are similar in being complete catalogues raisonnés of Michelangelo’s architectural work, with projects presented in chronological order with full catalogue information, bibliography, plans, and many photographs. Geymüller 1904 offers the advantage of large-format folio volumes of the highest production standards, reproducing large-scale measured drawings of Michelangelo’s principal buildings.

  • Ackerman, James S. The Architecture of Michelangelo. 2 vols. Studies in Architecture. New York: A. Zwemmer, 1961.

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    Revised edition 1964 and issued as a one-volume paperback edition in 1971. Still the best and most reliable overview and catalogue of all of Michelangelo’s architecture, thereby serving as an essential complement to Charles de Tolnay’s five-volume survey of the artist (Tolnay 1969–1971, cited under Michelangelo’s Art). After an introductory chapter articulating Michelangelo’s “theory” of architecture, Ackerman surveys all of Michelangelo’s major and minor projects in chronological order.

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  • Argan, Giulio, and Bruno Contardi. Michelangelo Architect. Translated by Marion L. Grayson. New York: Abrams, 1993.

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    Translated from Italian (Michelangelo architetto [Milan: Electa, 1990]). Handsome book on Michelangelo’s architecture with many black-and-white and color photos and details as well as views providing historical and physical context, thus more richly illustrated (on glossy paper) than Ackerman 1961. Chronological survey of work with up-to-date discussion of scholarly literature.

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  • Geymüller, Heinrich von. Michelangelo Buonarroti als Architekt. 8 vols. Munich: F. Bruckmann, 1904.

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    The utility of these large-format volumes lies in the large plates of measured ground plans, sections, and many details, especially important for any study of Michelangelo’s architecture.

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  • Portoghesi, Paolo, and Bruno Zevi. Michelangelo, architetto. Collana Storica di Architettura 6. Turin, Italy: Einaudi Editore, 1964.

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    A useful book for the number of illustrations (even of minor works), including measured ground plans, sections, and preparatory drawings (often in color). Now a rare book; therefore, it is fortunate that both Ackerman 1961 and Argan and Contardi 1993 offer readily available alternatives.

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Specialized Studies

Scholarly investigation of various aspects of Michelangelo’s architectural production has greatly increased in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, reflecting a growing interest in architecture and design as well as expanded opportunities to present architecture effectively in exhibition (e.g., Elam 2006). Brothers 2008 demonstrates how and when Michelangelo became an architect, and Maurer 2004 explicates Michelangelo’s design thinking and method, particularly as it is manifested in architectural drawings. Wallace 1994 focuses on Michelangelo’s projects at San Lorenzo in Florence. De Angelis d’Ossat 1965 and Bedon 2008 are monographic studies of Rome’s Capitoline Hill, whereas Thies 1982 is a more narrowly focused study of the origins of Michelangelo’s design for the same project. Michelangelo’s extensive architectural activity in Rome is receiving deserved attention, as exemplified in the valuable catalogue Mussolin 2009.

  • Bedon, Anna. Il Campidoglio: Storia di un monumento civile nella Roma papale. Milan: Electa, 2008.

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    A well-organized, well-illustrated history of the longue durée—planning, architecture, and institutions at the Campidoglio from 1150 CE to 1950. Excellent in describing the political forces at work, the contending priorities, and the constant jockeying of papal and civic authority. Thanks to extensive archival research, we are also presented with a much clearer picture of how Michelangelo’s assistants and followers carried out the master’s design.

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  • Brothers, Cammy. Michelangelo, Drawing, and the Invention of Architecture. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.

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    Brothers describes the character and origins of Michelangelo’s architectural thinking and tracks its gradual emergence from his work as a figurative artist. Focusing on the years 1505 to 1534, Brothers traces the slow emergence of Michelangelo as an architect and how figural drawing was integral to his architectural thinking.

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  • De Angelis d’Ossat, Guglielmo. Il Campidoglio di Michelangelo. Milan: Silvana Editoriale, 1965.

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    Large, luxuriously produced folio volume relating the history and realization of one of Michelangelo’s most important architectural projects. Particularly valuable are the large-scale color and black-and-white photographs as well as more than twenty double-folio measured plans, sections, elevations of buildings, and numerous architectural details.

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  • Elam, Caroline, ed. Michelangelo e il disegno di architettura. Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio and Fondazione Casa Buonarroti. Venice: Marsilio Editori, 2006.

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    A well-illustrated catalogue of an important exhibition of Michelangelo’s architectural drawings and related material. Particularly valuable are the focused essays by a number of leading scholars, including Howard Burns, Caroline Elam, Mauro Mussolin, Cammy Brothers, and others.

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  • Maurer, Golo. Michelangelo—Die Architekturzeichnungen: Entwurfsprozess und Planungspraxis. Regensburg, Germany: Schnell and Steiner, 2004.

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    A detailed examination of Michelangelo’s architectural practice as evinced in his drawings. Through careful and detailed analysis of individual sheets, Maurer reveals Michelangelo’s design process and the practicalities of planning and execution. As Brothers 2008 further elucidates, Maurer finds many ties between Michelangelo’s architecture and his figurative art.

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  • Mussolin, Mauro, ed. Michelangelo: Architetto a Roma. Milan: Silvana Editoriale, 2009.

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    This excellent and beautifully produced catalogue focuses on Michelangelo’s many Roman architectural projects with contributions by a team of scholars, including Clara Altavista, Anna Bedon, Francesco Benelli, Alessandro Brodini, Cammy Brothers, Oronzo Brunetti, Claudia Echinger-Maurach, Emanuela Ferretti, Golo Maurer, Mauro Mussolin, Claudio Parisi Presicce, Pina Ragionieri, Guido Rebecchini, Georg Satzinger, Maddalena Scimemi, Christof Thoenes, and Vitale Zanchettin.

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  • Thies, Harmen. Michelangelo: Das Kapitol. Italienische Forschungen 11. Munich: Bruckmann, 1982.

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    A detailed examination of the history and evolution of Michelangelo’s design for the Campidoglio. Thies argues for the central importance of the Marcus Aurelius equestrian statue in generating Michelangelo’s overall design for the site, thereby demonstrating the interrelationship of sculpture, architecture, and urban design.

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  • Wallace, William E. Michelangelo at San Lorenzo: The Genius as Entrepreneur. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

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    An archival and documentary study organized around Michelangelo’s three commissions at the church of San Lorenzo: the never-realized facade, the Medici Chapel, and the Laurentian Library. Each chapter examines the organization and day-to-day operations at the building site as well as the artist’s personal and professional relations with the nearly three hundred individuals who assisted him in carrying out his designs.

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Drawings

Michelangelo was an accomplished draftsman whose drawings span an approximately seventy-five-year artistic career. The number of sheets that have been accepted as autograph has fluctuated wildly over the years, from as few as one hundred or less (Perrig 1991) to more than six hundred (Tolnay 1975–1980). It is well known that late in life Michelangelo destroyed many drawings, and thus we have only a portion of his overall production in this important medium. Given the lack of secure documentation, drawing attribution and dating are wide-open arenas of scholarly debate. A number of distinguished connoisseurs have organized catalogues raisonnés of Michelangelo’s entire drawing oeuvre, from the pioneering work of Bernard Berenson (Berenson 1970) to the highly controversial slashing of the corpus by Alexander Perrig (Perrig 1991). Scholars generally fall into one of two camps: those tending toward caution in attribution, thereby producing a more constricted oeuvre (Dussler 1959), or those who tend toward expansionism (Hartt 1971, Hirst 1988). Charles de Tolnay includes some 630 sheets in his four-volume Corpus dei disegni di Michelangelo (Tolnay 1975–1980), which offers excellent full-size reproductions of all drawings, both recto and verso. Goldscheider 1966 and Hartt 1971 are single volumes presenting a smaller selection of drawings accompanied by brief catalogue entries. The innovative approach of Chapman 2005 uses drawings to narrate Michelangelo’s life and work.

  • Berenson, Bernard. The Drawings of the Florentine Painters. 3 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970.

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    Originally published 1938. A magisterial survey of Florentine drawings by one of the great connoisseurs and founding figures of the field of art history and drawing connoisseurship. A significant section is devoted to Michelangelo and his followers, with a masterful essay characterizing the master’s draftsmanship. While Berenson’s opinions and attributions frequently have been contested, his observations and insights are still valuable.

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  • Chapman, Hugo. Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005.

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    Published to accompany a major exhibition of Michelangelo drawings from the collections of the British, Ashmolean, and Teylers museums. Rather than a standard catalogue, Chapman wrote a narrative of the artist’s life illustrated by and traceable through the development of his drawings. Excellent-quality illustrations and many insightful observations.

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  • Dussler, Luitpold. Die Zeichnungen des Michelangelo: Kritischer Katalog. Berlin: Verlag Gebr. Mann, 1959.

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    A critical catalogue with 722 substantial entries divided into (1) securely authentic Michelangelo drawings, (2) attributed drawings, and (3) apocryphal attributions. Still one of the most reliable catalogues, if conservative, in maintaining that just 243 sheets can be certainly ascribed to Michelangelo.

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  • Goldscheider, Ludwig. Michelangelo Drawings. 2d ed. London: Phaidon, 1966.

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    Generous-sized black-and-white illustrations of 128 drawings with accompanying catalogue entries and an appendix of comparative materials. The scholarship is not as rigorous as Dussler 1959 and the reproductions not the quality of Tolnay 1975–1980, but a handy affordable volume by a scholar who produced similar volumes of Michelangelo’s paintings and sculptures.

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  • Hartt, Frederick. Michelangelo Drawings. New York: Abrams, 1971.

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    A chronological survey with many color illustrations, including some little-known sheets and previously ignored versos (but not always illustrated in close proximity to rectos). One should beware Hartt’s highly personal and sometimes idiosyncratic opinions about attribution, dating, and purpose.

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  • Hirst, Michael. Michelangelo and His Drawings. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1988.

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    An examination of the character, diversity, and techniques of Michelangelo’s draftsmanship. Organized thematically, the book also provides a chronological survey illustrated with 238 smallish black-and-white plates. An excellent introduction in English to the whole topic of Michelangelo’s drawings.

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  • Perrig, Alexander. Michelangelo’s Drawings: The Science of Attribution. Translated by Michael Joyce. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1991.

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    A highly controversial study that purports to place the connoisseurship of drawings on a “scientific” footing through rigorous formal analysis but with some very peculiar results, including a drastic reduction of Michelangelo’s corpus to fewer than one hundred authentic drawings.

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  • Tolnay, Charles de. Corpus dei disegni di Michelangelo. 4 vols. Novara, Italy: Istituto Geografico De Agostini, 1975–1980.

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    Beautifully produced, large-folio volumes and invaluable since more than six hundred drawings are reproduced full-size, in color, both recto and verso. Extensive entries on each drawing with relevant bibliography (up to 1980) and a useful concordance of previous attributions. Even debated attributions are purposefully included to permit scholars to make independent assessments.

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Catalogues of Principal Collections

Most of the more than six hundred drawings attributed to Michelangelo reside in six principal collections: the Ashmolean Museum (Parker 1972, Joannides 2007), the British Museum (Wilde 1953), the Musée du Louvre (Joannides 2003), the Uffizi Gallery and the Casa Buonarroti (Barocchi 1962), and Windsor Castle (Popham and Wilde 1949). There are smaller groups of drawings in the Teylers Museum, Haarlem, and the Courtauld Institute, London, with a smattering of sheets in the United States, including at the Detroit Institute of Art, the Cleveland Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Harvard Art Museums. All the Michelangelo drawings in the six major collections have been published by recognized experts in reliable, critical catalogues.

  • Barocchi, Paola. Michelangelo e la sua scuola: I disegni di Casa Buonarroti e degli Uffizi. 2 vols. Studi (Accademia Toscana di Scienze e Lettere La Colombaria) 8. Florence: Olschki, 1962.

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    Complemented by a catalogue of the drawings in the Archivio Buonarroti (Michelangelo e la sua scuola: I disegni dell’archivio Buonarroti [Florence: Olschki, 1964]), these volumes offer detailed entries on 286 drawings in the Casa Buonarroti and the Uffizi Gallery and 390 drawings in the Archivio Buonarroti, the largest cache of drawings by Michelangelo and his followers and assistants.

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  • Joannides, Paul E. Michel-Ange: Élèves et copistes. Inventaire Générale des Dessins Italiens 6. Paris: Musée du Louvre, Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2003.

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    A complete catalogue of Michelangelo drawings in the Louvre, forty-four of which Joannides considers autograph, as well as drawings by pupils, copies of known drawings by Michelangelo, and nearly three hundred drawings by followers and copyists. A tour de force of scholarship and analysis of a huge body of Michelangelo and Michelangelo-related material.

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  • Joannides, Paul E. The Drawings of Michelangelo and His Followers in the Ashmolean Museum. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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    A full and detailed catalogue of drawings by and copies after Michelangelo in the Ashmolean Museum. A handsomely produced and generously illustrated volume written by a well-respected scholar of Michelangelo that builds on and brings up-to-date Parker 1972.

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  • Parker, Karl T. Catalogue of the Collection of Drawings in the Ashmolean Museum. Vol. 2, Italian Schools. Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1972.

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    Originally printed 1956. Catalogue of the extensive holdings of Italian drawings in the Ashmolean Museum, one of the most important in Europe, written by the distinguished connoisseur and keeper of the Ashmolean from 1932 to 1962. Includes discussion and catalogue entries on more than eighty sheets attributed to Michelangelo and his followers.

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  • Popham, A. E., and Johannes Wilde. The Italian Drawings of the XV and XVI Centuries in the Collection of His Majesty the King at Windsor. London: Phaidon, 1949.

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    Fully illustrated catalogue with entries on more than twelve hundred sheets, including some ninety sheets by Michelangelo, his followers, and copyists. Windsor Castle holds some of Michelangelo’s most famous drawings—the highly finished gift or “presentation” sheets. These important objects are discussed by two of the greatest scholars of Italian drawings and Michelangelo.

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  • Wilde, Johannes. Italian Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum: Michelangelo and His Studio. London: British Museum, 1953.

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    Catalogue of the extensive holdings of drawings by Michelangelo and his followers in the British Museum, one of the most important and comprehensive drawing collections in the world. More than just a catalogue of 104 sheets, the volume is a foundation tool for the study of Michelangelo and his drawings by one of the greatest scholars and connoisseurs of the artist.

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Legacy

Michelangelo was both an artist and an aristocrat. He set new and still-unsurpassed standards of excellence in all fields of visual creativity—sculpture, painting, and architecture—and was in addition an accomplished poet and an engineer. Few artists have achieved as much in such diverse fields of endeavor; few so completely embody the notion of artistic genius. More than any of his contemporaries, he significantly raised the stature of his profession and helped redefine the relationship between patron and artist. The reality of Michelangelo’s accomplishments and the myths about his life and art are equally fascinating. Barolsky 1992 investigates the changing perceptions of the artist; Wittkower and Wittkower 1964 and Emison 2004 examine the history of Michelangelo’s apotheosis and how he came to exemplify genius. Østermark-Johansen 1988 traces the growth of his reputation in Victorian England. Rosenberg 2000 examines the legacy of a single work, the Medici Chapel, documenting its enduring interest for artists through the centuries, while the exhibitions in Acidini Luchinat 2002 and Joannides 1996 demonstrate the widespread impact and longevity of Michelangelo’s influence. Procacci 1967 contributes a history and catalogue of the Casa Buonarroti and its collections, a house museum that is central to the history and legend of the artist.

  • Acidini Luchinat, Christina, Suzanne B. Butters, Marco Chiarini, and Janet Cox-Rearick, eds. The Medici, Michelangelo, and the Art of Late Renaissance Florence. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002.

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    Handsome catalogue of an exhibition first held at the Palazzo Strozzi, Florence (L’ombra del genio: Michelangelo e l’arte a Firenze 1537–1631, 2002), and subsequently in Chicago and Detroit featuring painting, sculpture, decorative arts, and drawings commissioned by and produced for the Medici family and its court. Michelangelo’s widespread influence is explored in a number of essays and catalogue entries.

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  • Barolsky, Paul. “The Metamorphoses of Michelangelo.” Virginia Quarterly Review 68.2 (1992): 208–217.

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    Discusses how Michelangelo entered into mythology with Giorgio Vasari’s deeply fictional and artful biography (see also Barolsky 1990 and Barolsky 1994, cited under Michelangelo by His Contemporaries). Barolsky maintains that Vasari largely invented Michelangelo, and many subsequent writers have succumbed to the deeply fictional character of Michelangelo’s life as Vasari constructed it. Reprinted in Wallace 1995 (cited under Bibliographies).

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  • Emison, Patricia A. Creating the “Divine” Artist: From Dante to Michelangelo. Cultures, Beliefs, and Traditions 19. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2004.

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    Discusses why artists were praised and by whom and why the language of divinity was invoked, which was characteristic of the Renaissance but not of Antiquity. Michelangelo, known as “il Divino” in his own lifetime, is a central figure in this history of reputation formation.

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  • Joannides, Paul. Michelangelo and His Influence: Drawings from Windsor Castle. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1996.

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    An exhibition of drawings from the incomparable collection of Windsor Castle, including masterpieces by Michelangelo as well as many copies, variants, and designs inspired by the master’s inventions and drawn by more than twenty-five 16th- and 17th-century artists.

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  • Østermark-Johansen, Lene. Sweetness and Strength: The Reception of Michelangelo in Late Victorian England. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 1988.

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    A history of the rediscovery of Michelangelo in the Victorian era. Previously and largely dependent on the biographies of Giorgio Vasari and Ascanio Condivi, knowledge of Michelangelo and his works was greatly expanded in the 19th century by travel, photography, the growth of public art collections, and the translation and wide dissemination of the artist’s poetry.

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  • Procacci, Ugo. La Casa Buonarroti a Firenze. Gallerie e Musei Minori di Firenze. Milan: Electa, 1967.

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    A history and catalogue of the family house and its collections bequeathed to Florence in the 19th century. An introductory history is followed by a complete catalogue and numerous illustrations, including the cycle of paintings still in situ that celebrate episodes in Michelangelo’s life.

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  • Rosenberg, Raphael. Beschreibungen und Nachzeichnungen der Skulpturen Michelangelos: Eine Geschichte der Kunstbetrachtung. Kunstwissenschaftliche Studien (Deutscher Kunstverlag) 82. Munich and Berlin: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2000.

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    A historiographic study of the Medici Chapel and the extraordinary number of descriptions, drawings, and prints that Michelangelo’s sculptures inspired over the centuries, from 16th-century copyists to modern artists as diverse as John Flaxman, Théodore Géricault, Auguste Rodin, and Alberto Giacometti.

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  • Wittkower, Rudolf, and Margot Wittkower. The Divine Michelangelo: The Florentine Academy’s Homage on His Death in 1564; A Facsimile Edition of Esequie del Divino Michelagnolo Buonarroti, Florence 1564. London: Phaidon, 1964.

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    Michelangelo’s apotheosis was given tremendous impetus by the magnificent memorial service held in Florence in 1564 and with the construction of his tomb in Santa Croce. The authors add greatly to our knowledge of the events following the master’s death, including providing a facsimile of the printed esequies.

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