Start Free Trial

What does the term "Michelangeloesque" mean to you? Provide a comprehensive definition.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Michelangelo, whose full name was Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, was born in 1475 and died in 1564. He was an Italian artist who is perhaps best known for his sculpture of David and his painting of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with scenes depicting the Biblical book of Genesis. Michelangelo was known as the greatest artist of his time, and some hail him as the greatest artist who ever lived. He was an architect and poet, in addition to being a prolific sculptor and painter. Known for its incredible detail and beauty, his work has been described as technically perfect, richly detailed and both artistically inspired and inspiring.

The term Michelangeloesque can be broken down into its parts: Michelangelo and esque. The suffix “esque” means “like,” or “resembling.” To say something is Michelangeoloesque means, therefore, that it resembles the work of Michelangelo. Depending on the context, it could mean that it is amazingly realistic, technically perfect, awe-inspiring, or encompassing all of these characteristics.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When someone uses the term “Michelangeloesque” to describe a piece of art, they are saying that the piece of art has similar features or utilizes similar techniques as the artwork of 16th century Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. Michelangelo was a painter, sculptor, poet, and architect who lived in Florence and present-day Tuscany from 1475-1564.

Michelangelo’s work is characterized by clear outlines, human forms (specifically nudes), expertly rendered anatomy, religious themes, strong emotion, and expert use of light and shadow (chiaroscuro).

In two of his most famous works, the statue of David and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, these themes and techniques can be seen.

Michelangelo is widely considered to be one of the greatest artists of all time, so to have a critic describe one's artwork as "Michelangeloesque" should be interpreted as a great compliment.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In considering the art produced by Michelangelo, critics and the public alike for hundreds of years have used the same types of descriptions. Michelangelo's work is marked by painstaking detail, incredible acccuracy in depicting the human form, and filled with intense portrayals of emotion and action. His works are dramatic and large-scale, but very personal and presented in a manner that draws the viewer into intimate involvement with the scene being displayed. "One of the qualities most admired by his contemporaries was his terribilità, a sense of awe-inspiring grandeur..

When a critic uses the adjective "Michelangeloesque" to describe a contemporary work of art, the critic is saying that the work has these same characteristics.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial