Ripley portrays Michelangelo as a dedicated artist whose life centered on his work. She describes the great personal sacrifices that he made in conceiving his magnificent paintings and sculptures, creating a sense of empathy for his struggles. Most important, however, Ripley creates interest in Michelangelo himself, whose dark personal life contrasted so sharply with the brilliance of his masterpieces and the legacy that he left behind.
Writing specifically for a young audience, Ripley presents Michelangelo’s life much as one would tell a story, describing his thoughts and feelings as well as his accomplishments. Although she makes mention of the historical events that took place during her subject’s lifetime, Ripley avoids the use of detailed facts or dates. She focuses on Michelangelo’s personal achievements and disappointments without elab-orating on their historical context, confining the text to its purpose as a biography. Ripley also limits her descriptions of each of Michelangelo’s projects to one or two sentences that express their significance, in an effort to avoid excessive detail that might alienate a young reader. Some details, however, are consistently repeated throughout the text—such as the fact that Michelangelo’s painted figures resembled carved ones and that his sculptures employed realistic imagery—establishing these elements in readers’ minds.
What makes the text particularly engaging is the mention of events in Michelangelo’s life that are not usually found in standard textbooks. One example is his first encounter with Lorenzo de’ Medici, then the ruler of Florence. This meeting occurred when...
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Michelangelo is only one of a series of juvenile biographies that Ripley wrote on great artists from history. Designed as an informative introduction to Michelangelo and his work, her book serves as an educational tool in acquainting young readers with some of the most highly acclaimed art in the world. Ripley is effective in giving insight into a personage who had a tremendous impact on the history of art. Although published in 1953, Ripley’s subject matter is timeless and continues to be useful in educating young readers.
The juvenile biographies written by Ripley include Leonardo da Vinci (1952), Vincent van Gogh (1954), Rembrandt (1955), Rubens (1957), and Picasso (1959), among many others. Each of these works reflects Ripley’s educational background in art and education, as well as her extensive research into the history, culture, and individual works of each artist.