Leonardo da Vinci vs. Michelangelo

What happens when the two greatest artists of all times meet for a showdown?

That showdown actually took place.  The mayor of Florence commissioned the paintings (frescoes) from Michelangelo Buonarroti and Leonardo da Vinci. They were each told to paint a scene from the history of Florence on one of the walls of the Council Room of the Town Hall.

Expectation ran high. Of course neither of the artists allowed anyone to see what he was doing while he worked at home. Of the two, Michelangelo must have been the more worried. Leonardo was a generation older and had established his reputation. Michelangelo grew up hearing about Leonardo’s genius—was he jealous? His biographers speak of his dislike for Leonardo.
Leonardo was also an experienced painter and Michelangelo had painted very little so far. He had never painted in fresco. He was a sculptor.

What happened? Who won?

Officially, neither genius, because Michelangelo never painted his fresco and Leonardo ruined his.
However, copies of Michelangelo’s preparatory drawing (cartoon) and of Leonardo’s fresco have survived and give us a fair idea of what each man would have painted.
Here is Michelangelo’s (after an old copy):

A Wikipedia Commons photo

He chose a scene of a famous battle between the Florentines and the Pisans. The soldiers were bathing in the Arno River when the call to arms was sounded and they had to dress and arm themselves in a hurry.

Leonardo chose a cavalry skirmish from another famous battle. This is a copy by Rubens of a copy:

See this public domain photo enlarged

As you can see, it is impossible to say which was “better”. That always happens when you compare the work of great geniuses, not only in painting.

Read here about the studies the two geniuses made for their frescoes.

And see here two great statues of David, the Bible hero, by Michelangelo and Bernini.

This entry was posted in art, art history, fresco painting, great artists, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Renaissance and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

111 Responses to Leonardo da Vinci vs. Michelangelo

  1. Lynne Diligent
    wpm1955 says:

    I found this post SO interesting, and I continually wonder HOW it is that you know all this interesting stuff!

    Well, if I were on that committee doing the choosing, I would have chosen Leonardo’s, hands down. I saw Micaelangelo’s first and looked at it carefully for a full minute or two. I didn’t dislike it, but thought it was quite provocative, and I wondered what some of the figures were “doing.” Then I saw Leonardo’s picture, and it only two me about two seconds of seeing that to make up my mind definitively.

    Not only was it more visually striking (to me personally), it also seems much more APPROPRIATE for a public works project. (The figures are DRESSED, and not so provocative-looking, for one thing.) I have no doubt the committee would have thought so, too! This choice of Michaelangelo’s really seems to support what you said in a previous post about his being a “show-off!”

    Madame Monet
    Writing, Painting, Music, and Wine

    • Leonardo, indeed would have won for me as well!! Overall, I like Leonardo better. I admire him for being not only an amazing artist but a true genius as well.

      In a way I can relate to Leonardo (not the genius part, that would be incredibly cavilier of myself) because he was extremely curious, and loved experimenting. The natural world absolutely fascinated him. One of his notebooks (Codex Alanticus) is mainly composed of his sketches water related. He had been fascinated by the force when he saw a huge storm as a little boy. It fascinated him that such force could be one of the basis for survival yet had the power to destroy things as well.

      Sorry that was kind of off topic=P

    • Anonymous says:

      I think they would both win then they would both hate each other more than they already did but this article was very entertaining. I enjoyed reading it a lot. Thanks for writing it.

  2. Moonbeam McQueen – Writer, blogger, storyteller. Born in a circus tent, raised by gypsies, schooled by ninjas.
    moonbeammcqueen says:

    I agree with you– they’re impossible for me to compare. I think they’re both amazing.

    I love the new look of your site!

  3. 100swallows says:

    Madame Monet, thanks a lot for all your comments and observations. Michelangelo was a show-off but he can show off the Moses and the David and the Slaves and the Medici tomb figures any old time as far as I’m concerned and I will be happily shown-off to.

    This copy of his cartoon was done by nobody in particular and so it can only be used to get an idea of the original. The “Leonardo”, though a copy of a copy of a copy, was done by no less an artist than Rubens, and looks like it. Michelangelo’s accumulation of nudes, which worked on the Sistine wall, was probably a bad choice here. You’d think he would have been better off concentrating on just a few soldiers fighting, like big statues. Still, his cartoon was very much praised at the time and some of the best artists of Florence went to see and copy it and “learn how to draw”, as Vasari says.

  4. 100swallows says:

    Thanks, Moonbeam. I wonder which of my experiments you liked—I guess this one, which has been there all night. I had tried three of my own headers and rejected them one after another. Finally, in frustration, I clicked on this “standard” one. I think I ought to have one of my own making and will keep trying.

  5. iondanu – I am a visual artist of Romanian origin (a draughtsman, painter, photographer and digital artist) living now in Canada.
    ion vincent danu says:

    Yes, your new blog look is more visible, more easy to read, more pleasant. In the question who win the showdown I think we did… I wonder if you spoke of the Michelangelo’s dislike of Leonardo CAUSE…A misunderstanding, as so often happens: one day, Leonardo was in a group of admirers and discussing poetry and such…Dante came up as a subject and since Leonardo himself knew about Michelangelo’s fame as a connoisseur of Dante’s and Michelangelo just passed near, leonardo said “Why don’t we ask Michelangelo, who’s an expert?” (I think he said in good faith) But Michelangelo interpreted this as an ironical or mocking question and answered very rude, letting Leonardo and the others wondering about his sanity… He was very suspicious and at times grumpy… and so a coomunication problem developped in a hate-dislike relation… I hope I’m exact about the incident… Vasari as a source?

  6. Aryul says:

    I think Michelangelo wasn’t necessarily jealous. I think he was intimidated and being very anti-social didnt help either. As for the pieces, I actually prefer Leonardo’s over Michelangelo’s on this one. I just think the composition is more interesting as it has horses and actually looks like a battle. Don’t get me wrong though, Michelangelo’s piece is just as strong and I’m a fan of both anyway.

  7. 100swallows says:

    That story isn’t in Condivi or Vasari. There’s a slim chance it comes from a third contemporary Life, the first one, very short and full of errors according to everyone, by a man named Giovio. I’ve never seen that one. My guess is it comes from a movie or a fictionalized biography. As drama it’s good: in a short scene the author shows the character of both men and the cause or crystallization of their hate for each other. So si non e vero.… Shakespeare did that in plays like Julius Caesar with facts he picked up from Plutarch.
    In his Life of Leonardo Vasari says: “Leonardo and Michelangelo strongly disliked each other, and so Michelangelo left Florence because of their rivalry [imagine!] after he had been summoned by the Pope to discuss the completion of the facade of San Lorenzo; and when he heard this, Leonardo also left Florence [imagine twice!!] and went to France.” No reason given for this spectacular aversion.

  8. 100swallows says:

    Hi Aryul. You may be right—maybe there was no jealousy. And I have to say that I have always preferred the Leonardo too, though I feel wrong basing my judgment on those copies (there’s a painted copy of the Leonardo that looks even more beautiful).
    Vasari raves for two pages about Michelangelo’s lost cartoon. He says things like: “People who have seen these inspired figures declare that they have never been surpassed by Michelangelo himself or by anyone else, and that no one can ever again reach such sublime heights”. Vasari treats the cartoon as a lesson in drawing and anatomy, though, and doesn’t speak about its appropriateness as a fresco for the Town Hall wall.

  9. 100swallows says:

    Thanks, Madame Monet, for saying you like my new look (and the history lessons. Is that what they are? I don’t want to scare anyone away!). As I told Moonbeam, however, I’d like one with my own header and so I will keep experimenting. Maybe someone happened to see one with a marble dog I had on last night. I ended up deleting it first thing in the morning. It looked too plain. The present one has all kinds of options for the visitor, though it does look circus-y. And Cantueso is right about the way it messed up my pages.

  10. 100swallows says:

    Hold on until you see the final version, Cantueso.

  11. 100swallows says:

    Hi Moonbeam. You saw what I did to your last comments: I joined your second one to the first so people could see your amendment right away. But I knew right away you meant the statues and not my posts. I’m glad you like “the history lessons” and the provisional new look (you’d think we were talking about a hairdo!). I hope you will like the one I finally decide on too. I see by your front page that you are really good at handling the options and decorating in your own way.

  12. renatius555
    Wyck says:

    Michelangelo represented a scene that occurred the day before the actual Battle of Cascina, the subject of his lost cartoon.

  13. kimiam says:

    I am a sculptor and I favor Michelangelo so I would have thought there is no way for Leonardo to win if I judge, but in my humble and suprising opinion, Leonardo’s composition is superior.

    Let’s see him try that in the round!

  14. bambi says:

    hi michelangelo

  15. Susie Sling says:

    I love this website!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. anagasto – madrid, spain
    cantueso says:

    And shouldn’t you rather do a Michelangelo vs Bernini or Cellini? I thought you can’t really compare apples and oranges (Michelangelo and Leonardo), but you could compare various types of apples and say that Bernini won’t set up his apples without the tree, for instance.

    The hardest to do, I suppose, would be Cellini, because how am I to understand that he did mainly salt shakers for the royalty and then he did that Perseus? Was there a big demand for salt shakers?

    According to Ruskin’s way of seeing these things, there would have been a rich merchant clientele that wanted artistic doorhandles and aesthetic coffee spoons rather than monuments to the gods.


  17. George says:

    Although maybe there can be an answer about wich was the best of these works is not for us to say it, would be too foolish, they were a league apart.
    Sadly no living artist today can approach to their crafstmanship.
    Those secret techniques got lost in history & is about time to get them back from the grave!

  18. 100swallows says:

    George: As to craftsmanship I’m sure quite a few modern painters approach those two. Remember that Leonardo’s “secret” (experimental) technique made him ruin the fresco. Those old secrets would never by themselves make a great painting, which is the work of a great painter. Someone like Leonardo would today find his own secrets and paint in his own way, don’t you think?

  19. John says:

    Davinci is cool BUT he’s very stylized(and overestimated) and some of his faces dont look look well proportioned. They look very cartoony and at times crossed eyed or flat. I think overall his colors need more contrast as well. His anatomy is OK but its nothing i would call serious. If you notice he hides much of the anatomy behind clothing.
    As far as i can tell Michelangelo is much better on anatomy, You can literally see the skill from his figures and their poses, and isnt anatomically limited to the point were he has to cover up all of his figures anatomy. The connecting of the muscles is also more apparent in a more realistic way. Than again Michelangelo did have a nose problems.
    Hands up Michelangelo is the better of the two, and this coming from a student of the arts.

  20. John says:

    To people who said Davinci’s was better than Michelangelo’s!!: are you serious??!!! I didnt even see the pictures posted. Michelangelo totally killed davinci! look at the anatomy and details!? Davinici’s battle isnt even great! Some people are out of proportion, its obvious how he trys to hide anatomy he is not familiar with, and the figure outline itself is pretty crappy(if i might say so myself) i could do better than this mess! Should i mention those weird faces? Or shadows that dont line up?? Seriously it looks very “high school”.
    Just look how refined Michelangelo’s muscle structure is! You could virtually see the guys Michelangelo drew from every conceivable 3rd person angle with anatomical precision and detail!
    Any bloody idiot can draw a piece of clothing around someone. Totally TOTALLY Michelangelo owns Davinci here. the two pieces are battle scenes outside of that Davinici shouldnt even be compared.

    • andrew says:

      OK, if you think you can draw better than Leonardo Da Vinci, lets see it. I seriously doubt you’re a better artist than him. And your “art” school you go to probably isn’t any good. Also, Leonardo spent a long time studying the human body. It’s all over his notebooks. Start thinking before you post something. Leonardo Da Vinci against some “art” student who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I wonder who’s better?

  21. rich says:

    Hope I’m not getting on your nerves with my quotations, feeling inclined to quote once more from Delacroix’ diary. For him Michelangelo’s “Last Judgement” in the Sixtina lacks a coherent message. He notices there nothing but striking details, striking like a punch, but hardly anything of coherence, logical interlinking or overarching unity.
    I would venture to say the same applies to Michelangelo’s fresco here in comparison to Leonardo’s. I find the Da Vinci composition quite superior.
    -Just because John puts such a heavy weight on anatomy. Is correct anatomy everything in art?
    To quote John: “Any bloody idiot can draw a peace of clothing around someone” – But those Da Vinci horses are pretty naked. And I enjoy every inch of anatomy in those.

  22. 100swallows says:

    Rich: All your comments and quotes are very interesting. Sorry if I don’t respond as quickly as they deserve. Sometimes the most interesting comments are the ones I find it hardest to answer and so put off.
    Somewhere I quoted from Delacroix’s diary myself in one of these posts, though I had only seen the lines I quoted and have never read the diary. The Delacroix you brought in about Michelangelo’s exaggeration was brilliant and I meant to write something about it but never got around to it. I haven’t looked at the Sistine wall for a long time but when I last did, I had the same impression as Delacroix. Would the lack of unity or coherence be what strikes me now? I don’t know. I agree with you too about Michelangelo’s cartoon for the Consiglia Sala. It always struck me as a bunch of anatomy studies, no unity—no pleasing shape to the whole as there is in the Leonardo. There’s no focus (another way of saying it): your eye is thrown left and right. Step back to look and the whole is simply confusing—a tangle of guys.
    I agree with you about anatomy too and now I’ll tell John.

  23. 100swallows says:

    John: Thanks for your comments. I think you underrate both Leonardo and Michelangelo. Of course Leonardo is “stylized”! His priority was beauty. Correctness was clearly secondary, as it should be. You make too much of anatomy, which isn’t every artist’s theme. Remember: what matters is what you “say” with it, not your copy of nature itself. I don’t think just any “bloody fool” can draw cloth or another object. But few, very few, can make it as beautiful as Leonardo did. Insisting on correct details of anatomy in a work whose general achievement is so great is just pedantry.

  24. rawad says:

    great story !

    I prefer Michelangelo’s drawing, and I generally favour Michelangelo’s work due to all the muscularity combined with spirit he gave to every figure. Leonardo was great too, but for a best comparison, comparing the drawings of each is the best way to go, since thats what we have most of both. From these I think (*my opinion*) Michelangelo is a level above.

    And for a shameless plug, please have a look at




    I’ve worked for a week on these, hope people like :}

  25. anagasto – madrid, spain
    cantueso says:

    To Rich:
    Of course, quotes are most valuable. They are basic. Anyone can construe 20 opinions in favour and 20 against anything on Earth, so that mostly these IMHO contributions do not add up to anything. This is obvious, but not generally known.

  26. To John: Those are some of the dumbest opinions I have ever heard about Leonardo. First off, Leonardo had a lot more variety then Michelangelo (who shined only when creating muscular nude men, while Leonardo drew practically everything).

    Secondly, you should also realize that Leonardo’s piece is actually a copy of the piece by Rubens (so its not the original, I thought you would know that since you go to “art” school).

    Thirdly, detail isn’t everything. Leonardo said of Mike’s anatomy “they look like a bag of nuts”. And its true! Glance at both pieces, and tell me which one depicts more of a “battle”. Michelangelo’s piece is idealized, he only created what he knew best which is buff nude muscular men of course… and even his women look like that.

    Fourthly, Leonardo is NOT hiding anatomy: the guy studied 10 actual dead corpses to learn about the human body. Evidence of course is in his notebooks, which he clearly explains every vein and detail of the body.

    Lastly, who the hell do you think you are to think you can “draw better” then Leonardo? Where is your proof? I’d be glad to look at your work and have a good laugh.

    • andrew says:

      Your absolutely right! John probably learned about art from the internet. I’d laugh along with you when I saw John’s drawing. I can’t believe anyone would say that they could draw better than Leonardo Da Vinci. My five year old brother knows more about art than him.

    • Ashley says:

      hahaha you got him told! stupid trolls… John, seriously. you’re a idiot and you didn’t even make sense in what you said. you sounded so dumb. so thanks for humiliating yourself :)

  27. somedood says:

    Leonardo can paint/draw circles around Michelangelo. I find it surprising that some have mentioned Michelangelo’s superior “anatomical correctness”, whereas I have always felt that is where Leonardo clearly surpassed any and all painters. He was the greatest anatomist/physician in the world at that time! If you don’t think Leonardo knew how to proportion the human form, check out the vitruvian man or many of his scientific drawings. Leonardo even made light of Michelangelo’s failure to correctly paint muscles in proportion in the sistine chapel, a commission that Michelangelo would have probably never even received if Leonardo had finished the Adoration of the Magi. Michelangelo was a phenomenal sculptor and a brilliant artist, but as a painter/sketch artist, he is NOWHERE near Leonardo’s level. In comparison to Leonardo’s work, the faces in Michelangelo’s paintings look like they were painted by a kindergartner, and should be hanging from the refrigerator. Take a look at the sketch “The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St.John the Baptist” if you want to see human perfection on paper. Michelangelo simply could not have produced something so instantly striking, so breathtaking and so lifelike. When I first saw that sketch, I instantly concreted Leonardo as my personal favorite artist of all time. His work leaps from the canvas, whereas Michelangelo’s impresses, but stays put.

    as for these two sketches in question… leonardo’s blows michelangelo’s away in terms of idea and execution… and this copy isn’t even from the hand of leonardo.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Leonardo DA VINCI’s art work is awsome,totally the horse ones.

  29. Anonymous2 says:

    Leonardo > Michelangelo
    A few comparisons:

    – Contributed more to human civilization
    with his discoveries in science and the arts, as well as living a whole life of trying to improve humanity.

    – Was a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer.

    – Left a huge amount of useful notebooks which all speak of truth because they are experienced based and seem to come from a more neutral standpoint. These notes inspired generations to come.

    – Drew absolutely everything, which were all drawn with superior skill as well as accurate to nature.

    – Disliked Michelangelo and criticized his figures for looking like a sack of nuts.

    – Contributed to the arts for his own legacy (although he claimed to be “divinely inspired”), so he could go down as “the greatest artist ever”.

    – Was a sculptor, poet, painter, and architect.

    – Burned most of his work so nobody could view his innovations, or study them later. Instead, he left us self-directed biography which is also very biased and dishonest (can someone say, selfish?).

    – His drawings are also masterful, but only knew how to draw exaggerated male figures really well.

    – HATED Leonardo and taunted him for not finishing the horse sculpture (which was actually destroyed by war).

  30. Pingback: Michelangelo Copied Leonardo da Vinci « The Best Artists

  31. tomgurney – I am a Web Designer from London, England who has just moved to Shanghai, China (as of Jone 2008) for a new job. I have begun this blog in order to describe my daily experiences here to my friends and family back home plus anyone else who is interested!
    Tom Gurney says:

    Leonardo da Vinci vs. Michelangelo is a really great article.

    Its amazing to think that these two italian masters were up against each other, its like Ali V Frasier of the Art world :-)

    As an art fan, but someone who has lots to learn about these great artists, i shall carry on reading some of your other articles,


  32. Art Student says:

    Woah this is awesome
    the paintings are in different style so really hard to compare

  33. Pingback: » Leonardo Da Vinci, first Anatomist Life in the Fast Lane

  34. Natasha says:

    Wow, I’m amazed at how Michelangelo’s character is being judged especially as none of these voices of infinite wisdom actually happen to be anywhere near 500 years old. Or is there a fountain of youth somewhere we don’t yet know about?
    I defend the biography. It is biased, but history has always been biased. Sexism etc. even during the times of the renaissance (I’m horrified! :o).
    Michelangelo was supposedly an antisocial introvert so yes, he will focus on his highs and fail to see what other people around him see. And that is a crime most extroverts commit so HE has an excuse! So don’t judge!
    Thirdly, misunderstandings are common. Especially those over 4 centuries old. They accumulate more misunderstandees over the years :)

    For anyone that really feels Michelangelo was a fire-breathing dragon that belonged in a cave on his own should slate such artists as Caravaggio instead, who was meant to have killed a man.

    I think both artists contributed greatly to history. Both have inspired other works, good feelings, subsequent culture and peoples’ passion. Both were hailed divine for their contribution. If you have done more in your life then feel free to slate Michelangelo.

  35. enen
    Logos Amicus says:

    I wish Leonardo had finished his painting.
    The Ruben’s copy is amazing!
    Michelangelo fresco would be a mass, just like… the Sistine Chapel is :)
    (Leonardo was right about Michelangelo’s paintings.)
    Although: Michelangelo is the creator of the most beautiful sculpture in the world: The Pieta (when he was 25 or so) and one of the most moving: Rondanini Pieta (when he was dying at 90).

    Sorry… my English :)

    • 100swallows says:

      Logos Amicus: Thanks for your comment. Did you say Michelangelo’s fresco would be a MESS?
      Too crowded with figures, I guess you mean. “Bunch of worms”, as someone once told me in disgust, not at this painting but at the Battle of Centaurs relief he did when he was seventeen or so. I’m not sure what you mean when you say “Leonardo was right about Michelangelo’s paintings”. As far as I know there is no criticism by him, no mention of Michelangelo on record.

      The photos on your blog are really spectacular. As I scrolled down the pages I was very sorry they weren’t accompanied by some little writing, some remark, however simple, to orient the viewer and tell him what to think, what to see in particular. People need that, however good the pictures are. Write them in English, pretty please!
      You might also make an author’s choice of the best ten or twenty, so people won’t miss them. There are so many really memorable ones. I’m putting you on my blogroll.

  36. enen
    Logos Amicus says:

    Rubens… of course :)

  37. enen
    Logos Amicus says:

    Of course, I meant “the mess”.
    That was exactly my impression when I was Michelangelo’s “Last Judgement” in Sistine Chapel.
    I don’t particulary like Micheangelo’s paintings. But I admired his cartoons that I saw in Mediolan.

    If Leonardo said about Michelangelo’s painted bodies: “they look like a bag of nuts”… so that is also my opinion. (Although I think the painting – or the sculpture – doesn’t have to present correct anatomy to be a masterpiece. Even in the classical time of the Renaissance.)
    Michelangelo’s (finished) frescos are too flat and cartoonish to me.

    PS. Thank you for the complements about my photos. And for Your advise.
    But my blogs are written in Polish and my English is kind of… poor.
    My primary blog is BRAIN GRAFFITI:


    Some of my readers know English so I am going to include your VERY inetresting blog in my “BLOGOSFERA” list.
    I hope You don’t mind.
    Wish You the Best!

  38. enen
    Logos Amicus says:

    “when I saw”… of course :)

  39. cristhian says:

    when the mayor of Florence gave him the assignment to the two very young Miguel da Vinci while obviously had more experience ¬¬!,,, My Angel Miguel is the best artists of all time humanity is indeed a genius the greatest artist of all time living Miguel Angel

  40. Robert Brent says:

    I’ve assembled a timeline of both Leonardo and Michelangelo’s works at http://timelines.com/topics/leonardo-da-vinci, and http://timelines.com/topics/michelangelo, respectively. Anyone is free to contribute to it and enhance it with images, videos, or commentary. Don’t forget about all of Leonardo’s technological and military innovations!

    Our idea is to create an interactive historical record of anything and everything, based on specific events that combine to form timelines. We’re trying to achieve a sort of user-created multimedia encyclopedia, in which no event is too big and no event is too small, and where each event can contain various types of resources, such as video, images, maps, etc. It’s also a good way to direct traffic to your blog because your events will pop up along with anything else that’s thematically related. We’re also planning on creating an embeddable version of our timelines in the near future.

  41. Choco_Lotte says:

    so swallows
    do YOU yourself think that Michelangelo or Da Vinci is more of a genius?

  42. Pingback: Leonardo Da Vinci, first Anatomist | Life in the Fast Lane

  43. ivdanu – Quebec – Canadian visual artist of Romanian origin.
    ivdanu says:

    I never understood why it should be or/or and not simply too geniuses, each the greatest in his own right?

  44. Max Hartzenberg – Cape Town based street photographer.
    Max says:

    On the Consiglia Sala’s cartoon: If this strikes you as a poorer effort compared that of Da Vinci because “there is not a coherent progress”, vocal point or clear direction, you should not judge art, for that would mean you might have a head full of facts on painting and sculpture, but a very narrow mind. The Chaos in Michel’s cartoon is certainly and definitely intended and very effective. It is a surprise(caught-unawares-type) battle, after all.

  45. jay johnston says:

    hey thats the funnest suff i had ever heard of

  46. Kylie says:

    UGH! does anybody know when this battle happened? i looked all over the internet and i cant find it! i need to know because me and my mom are wondering and looking all over! in all the libraries and everywhere! can somebody please answer me? thanx so much:)

    • 100swallows says:

      Kylie: The Battle of Cascina, between Florentine and Pisan troops, was fought in 1364.
      The Battle of Anghiari (Leonardo’s fresco) was a victory of the Florentines over the Milanese troops of Filippo Maria Visconti in 1440.

      My source for the first is Hellmut Wohl in the notes to Alice Wohl’s translation of Condivi’s biography of Michelangelo; and for the second, Leonardo da Vinci, a German translation of an Italian text by Marco Rosci, published by the Verlag Kunstkreis Luzern in 1976.

  47. G.K. says:

    It is hard to say which one is better as both are not yet completed. To compare who was better among these two one should take the best work of these artists and pit it against each other. Now the best work of Leonardo would be Mona Lisa. It is hard to say which is the best work of MichelAngelo. It could be the pieta, the statue of David, the dome of saint peter’s or the sistine chapel ceiling. So there you have it. MichelAngelo scaled immense heights in sculpture, painting and architecture. As a genius he is far superior to Leonardo. Just as a painter he is equal to Leonardo.

    • alex says:

      “As a genius he is far superior to Leonardo.”
      Each to their own but Leonardo studied so many different fields (and mastered them) answered questions which today we are just answering.
      Leonardo as a genius is far superior.

  48. neopopstar – Fahamu Pecou (b. 1975) is an American painter based in Atlanta, Georgia whose intention is to comment on contemporary and hip-hop culture while simultaneously subverting it to include his ideas on fine art. In 2005, along with several of Atlanta's premier contemporary artists, Pecou created history at Atlanta's High Museum of Art with the exhibition Arts Beats Lyrics. Since 2005 Fahamu has been featured in several solo and group exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad. His work has been reviewed and featured in numerous publications including Harper's Magazine, NY Arts Magazine, Mass Appeal Magazine, The Fader Magazine, Atlanta Peach Magazine, NY Arts Magazine as well as on the cover of Artlies Magazine. In 2007 Atlanta's Creative Loafing named him Critic's Choice for Best Emerging Artist. He was also awarded a Best in Show Award for the 2007 Atlanta Biennial. In 2008 Pecou was awarded a residency at the Caversham Centre in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, additionally, Pecou's work was included in DEFINITION: The Art and Design of Hip Hop, an anthology of urban arts written by famed graffiti artist and designer Cey Adams.
    neopopstar says:

    Everyone loves a good art-fight… a little competition is always good to raise the bar and keep us producing at our highest levels…

  49. arefin rabby says:

    nice and saficent………………

  50. World of Art says:

    Looking at colorful paintings of Lisa Fittipaldi, will u believe that she is blind. She started painting in 1995 but her vision was constantly dropping down and after two years she was completely blind. Its simply beyond imagination that in a short period of two years, she integrate herself with this new phase of life full of darkness. Read her story

  51. Anonimus says:

    This is perfect. Thank you, you helped me a lot.
    US, Florida.

  52. Naji says:

    I sure hope we are not comparing apple to apple here. Da Vinci was a futuristic inventor for which he was positioned against the mainstream/the Church, whereas Michelangelo was an artist that recognized the time that he belonged to. This is like Mozart to Beethoven or Oscar Wilde to Bernard Shaw… My choice, however, is Da Vinci.

  53. Danny says:

    Michelangelo vs da Vinci , its a good topic for debate , a debate have no end. For years people compared both but we never agree which one is better. I am fan of both but for me by far Michelangelo is the best artist ever, there is only one better artist then Michelangelo and its God. Da Vinci is more famous these days for his various talents, but in arts sorry but he is nowhere near to The God Michelangelo. Even Raffaello was a better artist then da vinci. Leonardo comment about Michelangelo work “they look like a bag of nuts” i never heard about this no one can comment like this only a nut a jerk can make such comments on Michelangelo`s work due to his jealousy. Many people here post there comment and declared da vinci a better artist i am sure many of them not know anything about art, they may read some here and there and come to post their “expert comments” sorry to say but they all r jerks , suckers. All of you go back to school learn art only then run your big mouth.

    Viva Michelangelo

  54. Danny says:

    Michelangelo il divino a true Italian a true patriotic a true artist on the other hand da vinci was a selfish person he run from Milan when France attack on Milan. Michelangelo fight for firenze in battle. Pieta the best sculptor ever made by any artist Michelangelo created this masterpiece even before he turned 30. Da vinci could never ever create anything like that.

  55. Victoria says:

    Oh my…I don’t know how I entered in this website, but I love it! This topic is great and I have read all the comments!
    And…I have to admit that I despised John’s comment. He affirms to be a “student of the arts”, but he seems to haven’t learnt nothing from his studies. I love both Leonardo and Michelangelo, but I prefer the first one because I’ve fallen in love with his paintings, but not for this reason I take the liberty to say such stupid things, like “His anatomy is OK but it’s nothing i would call serious. If you notice he hides much of the anatomy behind clothing”. Are you joking?! Have you ever seen Leonardo’s studies on man’s body? If it’s real that you are, or you have been, a “student of the arts” you must have seen them. All his notebooks are full of anatomic studies because he studied on lots of corpses just like Michelangelo did, he just wrote down and painted everything. He had no reason to hide the anatomy behind the clothes.
    So, having said that, I totally agree with “John is S-TU-P-I-D” and also with “somedood”.
    As “John is S-TU-P-I-D” said “who the hell do you think you are to think you can “draw better” than Leonardo?”. Come on…don’t take it as a criticism, but I strongly doubt that you can paint better than Leonardo.

    Anyway, thanks “100swallows” for this topic, it was very interesting and thanks to it and the comments I have learnt a lot of amazing things :)

    • 100swallows says:

      Victoria: Thanks a lot for your comment. As you say, Leonardo and Michelangelo both studied anatomy, but Leonardo didn’t use that knowledge in his paintings the way Michelangelo did. It is nice to see two very different ideas of beauty, right? There are as many as there are geniuses, of course, and so there can be plenty more. Let John try.

  56. stevenglish – Middle aged male living near London, Engineer and inventor.
    stevtheangle says:

    Did anyone read ‘The agony and the ecstasy’ by J & F Stone? A great romanticised read about these two and the period, whether it is close to or well researched I dont know, I couldn’t put it down as a young man on a ho;day on the med!

  57. Ken Januski says:

    Must be about time for the Picasso/Matisse debate.:-)

  58. Ugo Allison says:

    please can any one analyze or tell me why exactly the two painters hated themselves so dearly?

    • 100swallows says:

      Ugo: Many analyze and speculate but no one knows for sure. Michelangelo’s first biographers don’t say why those two hated each other. One of Leonardo’s friends says (in the Codice Magliabecchiano) that Michelangelo insulted Leonardo publicly, ridiculing him for never having been able to cast in bronze his giant horse for the Duke of Milan. Vasari implies that Michelangelo considered Leonardo a time-wasting dreamer. From the time he lived at Lorenzo de’ Medici’s palace Michelangelo must have heard a lot about Leonardo and his inventions and schemes, many of them impracticable. He would certainly have been jealous of the almost universal admiration felt for Leonardo.

  59. lol awsom.em love in your site header

  60. andrew says:

    personally, I think Da Vinci’s is by far better. I like Da Vinci a lot better too, because he has a lot more experience than Michelangelo and is a much better painter. He made plans for machines we just invented recently.

  61. Wow, both are at best in their own right. Each piece speaks volumes about their creators, Leonardo’s carries the emotion of which he is so known for( Grotesque head, 5 characters comic..etc.) while Michelangelo also conveys deep emotion, while in a much more subtle manner. Beautiful works.

  62. moose says:

    Looking at MA’s makes your eyes hurt. No offense, but LDV’s is way better.

  63. Anonymous says:

    when were these artworks done at?

  64. At the age of 12 going on 13, I was placed in an after school program at Cooper Union College in N.Y.C. After being there for about a few months I notice that some of students there could not draw at all, but if they had enough money/they parents had enough they could become as great as, or even better than those who by nature are talented in time. At that moment I said to my self, there are a million artists in this world with different styles, and you can hire anyone of them to draw, but I will grow to become an artist who is payed to think. And that is why I would have said to both Leonardo and Michelangelo to combine their minds first and then their skills and come up with one idle. See the problem is that everybody is looking at skills, who’s the better artist, and not which artist did what was ask of them. There should be, when it comes to art, who is better then who, those who do in these days in time are probably great at talking about how great they are, but in truth are just OK.

    • 100swallows says:

      Tony: Hey, artists aren’t like scientists. I guess they are more like inventors. Combining skills may be good for some projects but each real artist (the rare man of genius) has to develop himself and could not profit from joint work. The gift of each is unique and often unintelligible to others. Another’s world forced on him would only mean distraction and a loss of power. Of course they learn from each other but that isn’t the same as working together (unless they are already formed as artists and respect each other). Look at the two battle fresco ideas and figure what kind of joint work Michelangelo and Leonardo could do!

  65. Ken says:

    Comparing Michelangelo’s paintings to Leonardo’s is like comparing Leonardo’s sculptures to Michelangelo’s sculptures, which is sort of ridiculous. I prefer Leonardo’s painting, but lets not forget that it’s actually a master copy by Rubens who was also a very skilled artist. I love Michelangelo’s work but his figures are sometimes clumsy looking, I think it was because he was so concerned with anatomy. In Leonardo’s painting the figures look a lot more fluid which is why I like it better. However, when Michelangelo gets it right, I prefer his work to any of Da Vinci’s.

    • 100swallows says:

      Ken: A good point about this unfair comparison, Michelangelo not being a painter. And I know it wasn’t really fair to use Rubens’ copy of Leonardo’s fresco because it is a wonderful painting by a painter of genius. But just for that reason I couldn’t resist. Rubens would also have made a pretty copy of Michelangelo’s cartoon, you can be sure. Yet even Vasari seems to think of Michelangelo’s cartoon as an anatomy lesson for other artists. It’s not his best work. He still had in his head those old Greek and Roman sarcophaguses with their tangle of nudes, as in his days at Lorenzo’s when he did the Battle of the Centaurs.

  66. David
    David says:

    Swallows, I’m enjoying all of the thoughts on Michelangelo and Leonardo. I find so much of their work reflected their own life experiences. At the time of the battle of the frescoes in the Great Hall, Leonardo was also painting the Mona Lisa and studying birds, all while having to deal with the death of his father, which led to the legal fight with his half-brothers. And he was always far more interested in the science (how to paint in oils) than the art while for Michelangelo it was always about the art. It was also a time when artists were driven to their best through head to head competitions so they were both exploring for perfection (whatever that means) as they saw it. So I very much agree with you when you say: what kind of joint work could they do?

    • 100swallows says:

      David: Thanks. Yes, it seems so strange that Leonardo could have considered this fresco–a mural that would test his reputation–as an experiment in technique. How could the design and colors–the picture!–take second place? Was this the time and place to experiment? Would the mural have been so much better or more applauded as an oil painting? Was he so unconcerned with the success of his cartoon that he allowed himself to “fool around” on the wall? Or was it immense ambition that drove him to try to add the imagined triumph of a new technique to the one of a better picture?

  67. David
    David says:

    Swallows: I think you’ll enjoy reading this week’s chapter of Michelangelo’s Puzzle (sistinepuzzle.com) entitled Smoke in the Great Hall, especially the third part when Michelangelo wonders why Leonardo is doing what he’s doing. By the way, I recieve a lot of visitors through your site. Thanks for the cherished place on your blog roll!

    • 100swallows says:

      David: You’re welcome. I’m sure your visitors are delighted. Your chapters are fun to read and full of information and new and original perspectives. Now you got me curious about how Leonardo will behave in the Great Hall.

  68. I think these men complement each other. Somewhere in the world of rat race, we tend to forget this. Here is my writeup.


  69. jamesstalin says:

    its the unknown world to believe to all and ever…

  70. Barbara Drummond
    Barb Drummond says:

    hit thanks for liking my blog. cheers

  71. Brittany says:

    i think they are both really great artists! i also think that leonardo’s was better because it was actually a painting of a war and michelangelo’s is just a bunch of naked dudes. lol i love michelangelo’s work but, come on, he is not even a painter he was a sculptor! and i think the paintings were both kind of messy but that just my opinion so don’t get after me about it we all have different thoughts

  72. I think leonardo’s was better because that is what you call art. Michelangelo’s was nice but no way camparrd to leonardo’s. look at leonardo’s it has everything and explains alot it is beautiful, not saying michelangelo’s is not, but it does not explain “the” renaissance

  73. julia says:

    i think that leonardo and michaelangelo went overboard than the usual maximum rate of an original showdown.

  74. Anonymous says:

    This was a very good paragraph that helpe me alot with papper

  75. Anonymous says:

    to be honest i think that michelangelo painting was better because it showed true emotions and what it means to be a artisit

  76. Anonymous says:

    im not saying that leonardo is not a good artist but michelangelos was better

  77. Dyl Pyckle says:

    Jeez, both are good, but umm, my little sister peeked at Michelangelo’s drawing, and she totoally went nutz for the rear end. I think Leonardo’s drawing was much more appropriate. Especially for 5 year olds. And, I just want to say to this website, THANKS!! Just BTW, My sister’s birthday is soon, and she wants an art party. Mom told me to dress as an artist, but I couldn’t decide who to dress as. Now I know to stay off Michelangelo. (No effence dude) :) and, I just hope all the little kids will never search this website, cause’ boy do they have somethin’ comin’ towards them!!

  78. Dyl Pyckle says:

    Leonardo rocks!! :)

  79. treselle says:

    I wont say anything to contradict all the opinions I’ve read, i just think one should study a little bit every painting, in general, before commenting about them. Behind every picture there is an amazing story that we don’t comprehend at a first glance. Yes, there was a show-off between the two of them, and yes, they were both ingenuous, but just think about this for a second: Michelangelo was both a painter and a sculptor, whereas, Leonardo couldn’t even finish his first sculpture he started. And Leonardo was a great inventor at his time. I don’t think there should even be a debate. They are both great at what they did. I don’t mind the pros and cons to my opinion, i just can’t stand ignorance.

  80. Liz Coward says:

    HOW MANY OF YOU GUYS LEAVE A COMMENT! brilliant pictures to both of them but I don’t think posting 2 pics on tinternet here deserves 237 COMMENTS!!!!!!!! gotta go into yonder kitchen to feed the cat. SEE YA!!!!!!!!! :P

  81. I wont say anything to contradict all the opinions I’ve read, i just think one should study a little bit every painting, in general, before commenting about them. Behind every picture there is an amazing story that we don’t comprehend at a first glance. Yes, there was a show-off between the two of them, and yes, they were both ingenuous, but just think about this for a second: Michelangelo was both a painter and a sculptor, whereas, Leonardo couldn’t even finish his first sculpture he started. And Leonardo was a great inventor at his time. I don’t think there should even be a debate. They are both great at what they did. I don’t mind the pros and cons to my opinion, i just can’t stand ignorance.
    Jk lol

  82. Pingback: Leonardo Da Vinci first Anatomist • LITFL

  83. Having studied both pictures I would have to say that while both are great artists, leonardos fresco has more depth and life in it.

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