All the Michelangelos in Rome

Paintings, frescoes, and sculptures in Rome by the greatest of all Renaissance masters, Michelangelo Buonarotti

Michelangelo Buonarotti, by Danile da Volterra.
Michelangelo Buonarotti, a bust by Daniele da Volterra in Florence's Bargello Museum.
Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475–1564), born to an exceedingly minor Tuscan noble and nursemaided by stonecutter's wife in the hills near Florence, was being acclaimed as the greatest artist of his age while still a teenager.

Supremely talented, divinely inspired, both a great craftsman and insightful innovator, seemingly able to master effortlessly any artistic pursuit he attempted, he would become the High Renaissance's greatest painter and sculptor, and renowned architect, and trusted military engineer.

He also wrote excellent poetry.

Michelangelo's fresco palette broke from the staid tradition of primaries-plus-gold and plunged painting into a festive new world of vibrant color, from secondaries to pastels. His figures—carved or painted—twisted and turned and carried their weight believably. Every face he created had a character behind it.

His proportions were mathematically precise and his creations exactingly naturalistic... except where they weren't. Michelangelo knew how to distort or exaggerate the rules to achieve an even greater artistic effect (when you're in Florence, study The David's hands and head; they're all outrageously oversized, yet somehow they look right).

Michelangelo was also temperamental, whiney, sycophantic without loyalty, and all around a bit of a jerk. On the Sistine Chapel ceiling job, he was utterly dissatisfied with his assistants and ended up firing all of of them save one he kept on to help grind pigments (and, possibly, to help warm his bed at night—and I don't mean just for the body heat. Though Michelangelo maintained a deep and spirited friendship with a woman later in life, that relationship was by all accounts utterly platonic and Michelangelo was, according to the innuendo at the time, gay).

Michelangelo's report card would definitely read "Does not play well with others." These character faults were unfortunately indulged or endured by those around him because he was so superhumanly good at what he did.

He was the first artist to be treated like a rock star rather than a common laborer or simple craftsman, and might well be counted as the art world's first true prima donna and enfant terrible.

We forgive him, too, because: hey, we all have faults. We're all human.

Michelangelo just also happened to be, quite simply, the greatest artist who ever lived.

Michelangelo's works in Rome

Tips & links

Michelangelo tours
How long does Rome take?

Planning your day: Rome wasn't built in a day, and you'd be hard-pressed to see it in that brief a time as well. Still, you can cram a lot into just a day or three.

To help you get the most out of your limited time in the Eternal City, here are some perfect itineraries, whether you have one, two, three, or four days to spend in Rome.

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