Study Guide

Michelangelo

by Elizabeth Ripley

Michelangelo Summary

Overview

Michelangelo is widely recognized as one of the greatest artists of all time. A preeminent sculptor of the early sixteenth century, he also painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling and was the principal architect of St. Peter's in Rome. Michelangelo embodied the ideals of the Italian Renaissance with his breadth of achievement and his artistic integration of classical forms and deeply religious themes. The Michelangelo portrayed in Ripley's biography, however, is not like the idealized demigod of his sculpture David but is instead an ordinary person with foibles and passions. Temperamental and physically unattractive, he vacillates between arrogance and almost abject dependence on the powerful people who support his labor. On the other hand, he forms several tender attachments over the course of his life and exhibits admirable loyalty and self-discipline.

Ripley's biography not only provides fascinating insights into the life of this creative genius but also offers an interesting introduction to the historical and cultural elements of the Renaissance. By drawing connections between Michelangelo's life and art, Ripley reinforces the book's purpose of showing artistic perfection emerging from a very real and imperfect existence.

(The entire section is 184 words.)