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Michelangelo's 3 Most Iconic Sculptures
Get inspired 02 May 2022

Michelangelo's 3 Most Iconic Sculptures

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, better known as Michelangelo, was a versatile and talented artist. Primarily as a sculptor, but also as an accomplished architect, painter and poet, Michelangelo revolutionized the world of art. Alongside Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, he was, and remains, an icon of the High Renaissance. We are in awe of the incredible ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, with the famous fresco The Creation of Adam. As well-known, is the design of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy as well as the sculptures within. But how does Michelangelo’s sculpture have such a lasting impression over the centuries? To find out, discover these 3 emblematic sculptures by Michelangelo.

David, the most famous Michelangelo’s sculpture

Michelangelo’s sculpture
David by Michelangelo, Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence

The David is certainly the most famous of Michelangelo’s sculptures, if not one of the most famous in the world. It was sculpted in a marble that was reputed to be “unworkable” by Michelangelo’s contemporaries. It was a technical feat that sealed the genius of the sculptor. But if this masterpiece (the result of three years of work) is so emblematic, it is also for other reasons. It represents, for the first time, David before his fight against Goliath, at once impassive and alert. At 5.17 meters tall, the biblical figure of David is impressive!

The entire work expresses a steely determination: tense and perfect muscles, a confident look, a fearless posture. In addition, Michelangelo deliberately disproportioned certain parts of David’s body. His hands, head and torso are larger than usual. The reasons for this choice are still unclear. For Michelangelo specialists, the most likely explanation is that he wanted to emphasize the essential elements of the work.

The Pietà, an unmistakable emblem of Catholic devotion

Michelangelo's Pietà
Michelangelo’s Pietà, 1497, St. Peter’s Basilica

The Pietà is particularly emblematic because it is a key work in Michelangelo’s career. Its phenomenal success ensured the worldwide fame that the sculptor has today. A major biblical scene, the Pietà depicts the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Christ just after his crucifixion. In addition to being technically perfect, this representation of the Virgin is distinguished by her particularly youthful and placid features. A strong symbol of Catholic devotion, this one of Michelangelo’s sculpture still attracts hundreds of admirers daily. It is the only work officially signed by Michelangelo. Today, it holds a place of honor in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

Bacchus, a Michelangelo’s sculpture with a surprising subject

Bacchus by Michelangelo
Bacchus by Michelangelo, 1497, Museum del Bargello, Florence

Unlike most of Michelangelo’s other works, this one deals with a rather light subject. Indeed, it is a sculpture of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, drunkenness, excess and nature. Here, Bacchus wears only a crown of vine leaves, a bunch of grapes and a glass of wine. He stares at the latter with empty eyes and a disillusioned look, his body visibly swaying under the effect of alcohol. Behind him stands a small satyr, linked to Bacchus by the bunch of grapes they both hold. While this sculpture by Michelangelo is now world famous, it did not seduce its patron, Cardinal Raffaele Riario. It was later sold to Jacopo Galli, a banker and friend of Michelangelo, and then finally to the Medici family. It now resides in the National Museum of Bargello in Florence, Italy.

Michelangelo, a deified artist

Nicknamed “Il Divino” (or “The Divine”), Michelangelo was one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance. He is still admired and honored today, sometimes even deified. Always pushing the limits of technical and artistic perfection, his talent was matched by his versatility. Over time, he even developed a passionate style called “la terribilità”. That quality of the artist to inspire an almost divine fear in the spectators of his works. And you, what effect do these incredible sculptures have on you?

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