The Rightful Archetypal Renaissance Man

By Darren Hartley

Among the Michelangelo paintings are two of the most influential works in fresco in Western art history. These are the scenes from Genesis on the Sistine chapel ceiling and the Last Judgment on the Sistine Chapel altar wall in Rome. These works are renowned inspite of Michelangelo's low opinion of painting.

An Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet and engineer, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simon is also famous for two sculptures, aside from his Michelangelo paintings, These sculptures, completed before he turned thirty, are the Pieta and the David.

As an architect, he revolutionized classical architecture by using plaster as the main element in his design of the dome of St Peter's Basilica also in Rome.

The Michelangelo sketches are among the earliest of Michelangelo paintings. The volume of these surviving sketches, together with correspondences and reminiscences, make Michelangelo the best documented artist from the 16th century.

Michelangelo's versatility in the disciplines of the highest order lead him to be often considered for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with his fellow Italian and rival, Leonardo da Vinci. This versatility Michelangelo acquired despite his making only a few forays beyond the arts. The Renaissance man is a man whose seemingly infinite curiosity was equalled only by his inventive powers.

The Mona Lisa and the Last Supper are two Da Vinci paintings that occupy the unique positions of being the most famous, most reproduced and most parodied portrait and religious paintings of all time. Only the Creation of Adam, painted by his co-Italian and rival, Michelangelo has been able to approached the fame of these two Da Vinci paintings.

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian polymath, having been a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer, one time or the other. However, it is primarily for his Da Vinci paintings that he was renowned for.

Other than his iconic Vitruvian Man drawing, only 15 Da Vinci paintings were able to survive the passing of the centuries. This phenomenon, though largely due to Leonardo's persistent and more often than not disastrous experimentation with new techniques, is also attributable to his chronic procrastination of his own accomplishments.

However, these few Da Vinci paintings comprise a contribution to later generations of artists, together with his notebooks, containing drawings, scientific diagrams and thoughts on the nature of painting. Again, this contribution is only rivalled by the corresponding contribution of his chief rival contemporary, Michelangelo.

It was after studying in the studio of a renowned Florentine painter, that the earlier Da Vinci paintings came to life. The painter we owed this debt to is Verrocchio.

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