Michelangelo and the L'antico Research Paper

Pages: 10 (3635 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Art  (general)

Michelangelo and Antiquities

Michelangelo and the L'antico

The preservation of antiquities plays an important role for humans. They connect us with out past and remind us of who we were, who we are today, and how we got where we are. The preservation of antiquities is not a new idea. The stewardship of antiquities has always been considered to be an important role. This job was often only relegated to those who played an important role in the current society. As such, the stewardship of antiquities became a status symbol as early as the Middle Ages. The importance of antiquities in human society and the love of them led to the desire to reproduce many of the great works that marked important civilizations or important people.

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The idea of reproducing likenesses of important antiques was not new to the people who surrounded Michelangelo and his patrons. Although Michelangelo was considered to be one of the most original artists of all time, many of his pieces were inspired by ancient works of art from times gone by. One of the greatest mysteries surrounding an already mysterious member of Renaissance society is his claim to be one of the most original artists in the world. It might have been difficult to prove that his inspiration was inspired by another piece during the time of their creation, as very few had the means to travel to world to see them. However, now we know that many of his pieces were undoubtedly inspired by older pieces from timed gone by. This research will support the thesis that Michelangelo's love for creating reproductions of antiquities was driven more by the external market that existed for these pieces than by his own admiration and love of them.

Antique Inspiration

TOPIC: Research Paper on Michelangelo and the L'antico Assignment

That Michelangelo was an admirer of antiquities is apparent from its inclusion in his work. Throughout his life, Michelangelo relied on classical prototypes both for inclusion in his work and as a source of inspiration and a style reference for his originals (Ronen, p. 336). It is apparent that Michelangelo had to have either seen the original or must have seen someone else's drawings in order to create his works. Michelangelo claimed to work entirely from memory. However, several scholars now claim that he carefully destroyed his original drawings in order to create the illusion of his genius (Ronen, p. 336). Whether or not this is true remains one of the great mysteries of the art world.

Michelangelo was said to be divinely inspired, but it is now evident that ancient works often helped to enhance this inspiration. One of the finest examples of this inspiration is in the Fall of Man, which is part of the Sistine Chapel. Part of the drawing originates from as bas-relief from Benevento that is dedicated to Hercules by the Augur P. lunius lanuarius. Michelangelo must have been acquainted with this piece in order to be able to use it in the Sistine Chapel (Ronen, p. 336).

This brings us to a few simple questions. The first is what qualifies antique sculpture? Throughout time, the definition of what qualifies as an antique has changed. In American society, many casual citizens collect antiques and antique sculpture for their private collections. Of course, only the rich and famous can afford the most prized possessions, but many can afford simple collections. However, this was not always the case. In the past, the collection of antiques was considered to be a pastime of the wealthy. Antiquities were regarded as important status symbols and a way to flaunt one's power and prestige. The most prized antiquities are still displayed proudly as symbols of power and success. The definition of what qualifies as an antique has changed throughout the ages. The definition of what is considered an antique also depends on the purpose and opinions of the collector.

In today's market, an antique is generally regarded as something that is over 50 years old. However, depending on the item, this definition might change. It is difficult to define what is considered to be an antique and what is not. The older and rarer the piece, the more that it is worth. People collect antiques because they have some type of value to them. This value might not always be monetary. Sometimes people collect antiques for their intrinsic value or the emotion that is attached to them. The same was true in the time of Michelangelo. People collected antiquities for many reasons.

Greek and Roman sculptures, pottery, and other antiquities were considered prized possessions during the time of Michelangelo (Kent). They represented a glorious time in Italy's past and the roots of the civilization that Michelangelo and his contemporaries knew. They were symbolic of the Italy's legacy and past glory. They enjoyed collecting classical works, as can be seen in both the style of Michelangelo's original works and in the style of the actual items that he chose to represent in his works.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, collecting antiques was in the realm of the middle class elite, who paid considerable amounts of money to suit their tastes and to display their wealth and prestige (Edmonds). The invention of the printing press opened the market for a new class of collectors, but for the most part, during the time of Michelangelo, even these antiquities remained in the hands of the upper middle class (Edmonds). It might be noted that, according to Edmonds, the work of many sculptors began first as a print of the work to be.

Antiquities were held in high regard by the upper Middle class and upper class elite as a status symbol. They used sculpture and painting as a means to show the world the power and status that they had attained, much in the same manner that we use expensive cars to show our wealth (Kent). The possession of antiquities did not extend into the lower classes until recent times. Even now, the collection of antiquities is only for those who can afford them. The collecting of antiquities is still a hobby that is to be enjoyed by the upper class.

Michelangelo's Role in the Discovery of Ancient Sculpture

The ability of Michelangelo to attract Florence's most influential and powerful patrons placed him in a position to influence the future of Italian Renaissance art. Not the least of these powerful families was the famed Medici family. The Medici were responsible for the renovation of many public and private buildings. They were also responsible for the establishment of one of the most prestigious art academies in all of Europe (Art Institute of Chicago). The Medicis' greatest claim was their contribution to the arts and sciences. Art was used to enhance Medici power and to announce to all that they were one of the most powerful families in Italy.

The Medicis made extensive use of sculpture to enhance their residences. Among the Medici property can be found numerous garden statues, grottos, water features, and areas of plantings that featured sculptures of all types. Many of these statues were larger than life. They were made of plaster, marble, granite and other local and imported materials. One of the key problems with the Medici collection is that the artists are often unknown. For instance, the Male Torso is often attributed to Michelangelo, but it is not certain if this is indeed the case, or if it might have been another sculptor altogether (Art Institute of Chicago).

Michelangelo's association with the Medici family gave him access to many opportunities that he would not have had without the support and patronage of this powerful family. The Medici were quite fond of Michelangelo and invited him to view their extensive collection of art and antiquities. The Medici attained their power through the banking industry; therefore, they were of the "proper" class to have access to many works of art. They drove Florence to become an art capital where works were created that would influence the direction that art would take in the future. Many of the art world's greatest masters can be traced to Florence during this time period.

When Lorenzo de'Medici took the throne in 1469, the gardens around his palace were filled with antiquities that invited artists were welcome to study (Lemley). Lorenzo first met Michelangelo when the young ruler was a teen. Supposedly, Michelangelo was busy working in the garden on a marble fawn's head. This was supposedly Michelangelo's first attempt at working with marble. Even so, the young Lorenzo was impressed. He suggested that Michelangelo knock out a few teeth, as the faun that he was working on was aged. Michelangelo complied and Lorenzo was so impressed that he invited Michelangelo to dinner, thus beginning a long relationship between the Medici's and Michelangelo (Lemley). The Medicis' collection of Greek antiquities had a significant influence on the work of Michelangelo.

The collection of antiquities meant that archeology around the ancient Italian cities was alive and well. Throughout the area one can find Etruscan, Greek, and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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