Introduction to Art; Renaissance and Baroque Art

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“The greatest artist has no conception which a single block of marble does not potentially contain within its mass, but only a hand obedient to the mind can penetrate to this image.” ~ Michelangelo Buonarroti Michelangelo describes in the above quote what it is like to carve a likeness of a person out of a large block of marble. As we know from seeing his work, he did an excellent job with this task. Bernini did just as fine a job on his, but in a much different way as you will see in the following pages. Michelangelo Michelangelo was born on March 6, 1475, in Caprese, Italy, a tiny village, owned by the nearby city-state of Florence. His father was the mayor. He attended school in Florence, but he was preoccupied by art. When he was 13, his father agreed to apprentice him to some well-known painters in Florence. Michelangelo was unsatisfied with these artists, because they would not teach him their artistic secrets. He went to work under another sculptor hired by Lorenzo de Medici. When Michelangelo was 21, he went to Rome, where he was commissioned to carve a group of marble statues showing the Virgin Mary supporting the dead Christ on her knees. His sculpture was called Madonna Della Pieta, and it made Michelangelo famous. A few years later, in 1501, he accepted a commission for a statue of David. He took on the challenge of carving this beautiful work out of a “huge oblong chunk of pure white unflawed Carrara marble – some 18 feet high and weighing several tons – that had been badly block out and then abandoned by an earlier sculptor” (Coughlan 85). This piece had always fascinated Michelangelo, but neither he, nor anyone else, could think of what to carve from it, until now (Coughlan 85). Thus began a new era in art, the High Renaissance. He began carving this statue for the city of Florence. It would become a symbol of this

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