Michelangelo as an Angel

Giorgio Vasari knew Michelangelo personally and almost literally adored him. “See Michelangelo’s work,” he says more than once in his book, “and you never need to see any other.”

He had been lucky enough to meet Michelangelo, the undisputed greatest artist of the age, when Vasari was just a country bumpkin come to Florence to learn how to paint. For a couple of months Michelangelo himself was the boy’s master. Unfortunately Michelangelo was called to Rome and Vasari had to look elsewhere for instruction.

But for the rest of his life Vasari idolized Michelangelo and kept up contact. When it came to Michelangelo’s work, the force, the magic, numbed Vasari’s critical faculty. He could only reel with amazement. It was so far above the work of any artist he had ever seen. He, Vasari, could learn from all the artists; he could understand this or that innovation or beautiful feature. He could see where it came from, feel it inside himself. But with Michelangelo the power came from nowhere, or from heaven. Vasari knew he himself could never produce work like that. It was as though an angel had sculpted those figures in the Medici Chapel, not a human. He was almost a little afraid of the Master: it was like being near an angel of God.

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6 Responses to Michelangelo as an Angel

  1. erikatakacs – Canada – I am a figurative sculptor working in paper pulp.
    erikatakacs says:

    Cellini looked up to him too, Michelangelo was almost like a god to him. I find it interesting that in his opinion the competition piece with Leonardo was Michelangelo’s best. He never surpassed it, before or after, according to Benvenuto.

  2. 100swallows – Madrid, Spain
    100swallows says:

    Erika: Vasari says many thought so too. He makes a list of all the greats who went to copy the cartoon before it was torn to pieces—Rafael, Andrea del Sarto, Rosso, Sansovino…. He doesn’t mention Cellini but Benvenuto surely went there for at least a look. Cellini, as you will see, says some incredibly mean things about Vasari, calling him little Giorgio.
    Michelangelo and Cellini really seem to have gotten along. Of course, a visit to Benvenuto’s workshop must have been a real treat, especially if he was trying to please someone he really respected. He would have fascinated Michelangelo with his work and his secrets. Look at the figures around the base of his famous salt cellar to see how he “admired” Michelangelo. They look very much like Night and Day in the Medici chapel.

  3. erikatakacs – Canada – I am a figurative sculptor working in paper pulp.
    erikatakacs says:

    Swallows, all the detail you have! Amazing. You make art history very exciting. :)And I’m fascinated by Michelangelo. I’ll check that Cellini piece out.

  4. Anangeli
    anangeli says:

    This is great.

  5. 100swallows – Madrid, Spain
    100swallows says:

    Thanks, anangeli.

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