In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Michelangelo Buonarroti

  • Introduction
  • Bibliographies
  • Notable Exhibitions and Catalogues
  • Anthologies
  • Michelangelo as Writer
  • Politics, Philosophy, and Religion
  • Family, Friends, and Rivals
  • Legacy

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


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.


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.

    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.

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

    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.

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

    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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