Consummate painter, draftsman, sculptor, and architect, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564) was celebrated for his disegno, a term that embraces both drawing and conceptual design, which was considered in the Renaissance to be the foundation of all artistic disciplines. To his contemporary Giorgio Vasari, Michelangelo was “the divine draftsman and designer” whose work embodied the unity of the arts. Beautifully illustrated with more than 350 drawings, paintings, sculptures, and architectural views, this book establishes the centrality of disegno to Michelangelo’s work.
Carmen C. Bambach presents a comprehensive and engaging narrative of the artist’s long career in Florence and Rome, beginning with his training under the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio and the sculptor Bertoldo and ending with his seventeen-year appointment as chief architect of Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. The chapters relate Michelangelo’s compositional drawings, sketches, life studies, and full-scale cartoons to his major commissions—such as the ceiling frescoes and the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel, the church of San Lorenzo and its New Sacristy (Medici Chapel) in Florence, and Saint Peter’s—offering fresh insights into his creative process. Also explored are Michelangelo’s influential role as a master and teacher of disegno, his literary and spiritual interests, and the virtuoso drawings he made as gifts for intimate friends, such as the nobleman Tommaso de’ Cavalieri and Vittoria Colonna, the marchesa of Pescara. Complementing Bambach’s text are thematic essays by leading authorities on the art of Michelangelo. Meticulously researched, compellingly argued, and richly illustrated, this book is a major contribution to our understanding of this timeless artist.