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Michelangelo and Later Renaissance Art

The world know Michelangelo as a Renaissance painter, poet and architect. All his works without exception are masterpieces of art that inspired many other artist of that period. Anyway, his real talent was brightly revealed in art of sculpture. As a sculptor, Buonarroti created numerous chef d’oeuvres that became the symbol of Renaissance epoch. In his David, Bacchus, and The Rome Pieta, he concentrated on the depiction of human body which is the central theme of that period (Kleiner, 2009). Hence, Michelangelo represented the human figure without in its most natural appearance thus emphasizing the beauty of the nude and human body.

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All three sculptures were made from marble blocks from different and over the usual human size. The material he used inspired him thus passionately curving the solid marble in order to find out what God put inside (Steve et. al. 2007). Hence, Bacchus, the god of wine with cup near his lips and little faun beside his left hand, is almost 2 meters height; David is even higher – 13 feet high that is much considerably overcomes natural human size (Steve et. al. 2007). This great difference in sizes was explained by Michelangelo’s intention to humanize God who looked like a mere man and to extol the human who similar to a god. Rome Pieta also includes some divine motives thus presenting the Pieta of Mary with dead body of the Christ on her knees. Here again, we can see that priority was given to the forms and sizes.

All figures embody a deep meaning symbolism that was revealed though poses and details, face expressions and proportions. Hence, all the lines thoroughly curved from the marble express were done on purpose. Thus, David’s face was created with a fined caution where each line bears some special message and meaning. A special consideration needs David’ mouth which is perhaps the most perfectly modeled mouth in all sculpture. The most striking thing about it is the form of it is highly symmetrical and the line between lower and upper lip is neither thin not thick (Puthan 2003) Further, the face expression of Mary in The Rome Pieta also mattered. Here, Mary – mother of 33 years-old Jesus – looks like a teenager with ideal features and innocent and sad look. By this, Michelangelo emphasized the insight youthfulness of the virgin who was always ready to help his son. As for Bacchus, the expression on his face shows his light-heartedness and indifference thus showing his superiority over the humans.

If comparing David and Bacchus, there observed a tangible difference in pose and frame. Thus, Bacchus, with his smooth muscles and his drum belly considerably contrast with strong and muscular figure of David. Even the poses symbolize their different origin. So, in this respect, Michelangelo’s God’ are resemble humans rather than powerful divine creatures whereas men were imaged as noble and strong (Steve et al. 2007).

As it can be viewed, most of the sculptures of the artist were nude. However, the nudity in his works did not symbolize sexuality of eroticism but partially. On the contrary, by this device Michelangelo wanted to reveal all the beauties of the human body and its relief that empowers him to create the contrast between the light and the shadow. Working with forms, he was able to show the strength of David, sufferings of Jesus and unconcerned life of Bacchus. Therefore, Michelangelo may be regarded as the conqueror of marble and the connoisseur of human body.


Kleiner, F. S. (2009). Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: The Western Perspective. US: Cengage Learning.

Puthan, B. (2003) The Sculptor’s Way: A Guide to Modeling and Sculpture Us: Courier Dover Publications.

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Steves, R., and Openshaw, G. (2007) Rick Steve’s Florence and Tuscany 2008 US: Avalon Travel.

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