Review of “Michelangelo”

This post is a review of the book Michelangelo by Diane Stanley (pp. 40).

The Summary

This book addresses the life of Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni perhaps one of the greatest artists of all time. Michelangelo was born in the 15th century (1475) to a middle-class family in Italy during the Renaissance.

As as a small boy, Michelangelo was trained in stonecutting. This stokes a fire within him and he asked his father if he could be an artist apprentice. Initially, his father was angry about this as this was not an occupation for a gentleman. However, eventual the father relented and Michelangelo began his training.

With time Michelangelo learned painting and sculpting among other things and was eventually sponsored by the famous Medici family, living with them. After several years he would leave the family as politics became tense when there was a change of leadership within the Medici family who ruled Florence.

Over the next few years, Michelangelo sculpted many of his great masterpieces usually sponsored by the Catholic church. Examples include Pieta and David. The realistic nature of the statutes is due to Michelangelo’s talent as well as his knowledge of anatomy through the study of cadavers.

Michelangelo’s next project was to build a tomb for Pope Julius II. However, there was some misunderstanding and arguments over money that hounded this project. After fleeing and the returning to the Pope, Michelangelo was given the task of painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This was a monumental task as the ceiling was almost 6,000 square feet. It was all done by hand over the course of four years.

Michelangelo never married and he struggled to maintain social relationships. His work was his life and the excellence speaks for its self. He finally died at almost 90 years of age in 1564. A remarkable long life in an age of little health care and the plague.

The Good

This is an excellent text. The strong point is the pictures. The visuals are developed in a renaissance style and also include pictures of the various works Michelangelo made. The actual sculptures and paintings that he made are breath-taking. It almost appears as if Michelangelo was not even human.

The visuals also show Michelangelo as he progressed from small boy to old man. This supports the chronological nature which not all books do when sharing a biographical story.

Kids will love the pictures while older students will be able to appreciate the text. This book also provides exposure to some aspects of European and church history.

The Bad

The text is too complicated for anyone below 5th grade. Besides this, there is little to complain about in this text. In addition, a lot of background information may need to be provided in order for students to understand what is taking place in the story.

The Recommendation

This is a good book and perhaps should be a part of a teacher’s library if they want to expose kids to Renaissance art. However, it might be too detailed oriented and a more general book on art would provide the exposure kids may need

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