Anecdotes Of Michaelangelo (1474-1564)
( Originally Published 1915 )
Michaelangelo was undoubtedly the greatest of all artists. Not only as a painter, but as a poet, a sculptor, and an architectect he was able to carry all before him. His brain was full of ideas more and greater than he could carry out. His life was one of sorrow, and although rich, he did not care for luxury - his mind was too great and too earnest to be taken up with small gratifications. He knew that pleasure was not worth the time it took.
In the year 1546 it chanced that Antonio da San Gallo died; a director for the fabric of St. Peter's was required, and there were various opinions as to who should be entrusted with the office. Being asked if he would under-take the work, the master replied that he would not, architecture not being his vocation ; but when entreaties were found useless, the pope commanded him to accept the trust, and, to his infinite regret, he was compelled to obey.
Of the work already done, he would often publicly declare that the building was left without light, and that too many ranges of columns, one above the other, had been heaped upon the outside; adding that, with its in-numerable projections, pinnacles, and divisions of members, it was more like a work of giants than of the good antique manner, or of the cheerful and beautiful modern style. He made a model to prove the truth of his words,and this was of the form wherein we now see the work to have been conducted. Much, that was true at the time Vasari wrote, was afterwards changed, but where Michaelangelo made changes, he took care to have all constructed with great exactitude, adding a degree of strength which would leave no pretext for another to change his plans.
He executed many other buildings, and the capitol at Rome, as it stands today, is mainly from his plans, although executed after his death.
For his work upon St. Peter's he accepted no compensation.
Like most of the architects of the time, Michaelangelo was painter and sculptor as well. St. Peter's contains one of his greatest works of sculpture, the Pieta, and his triumph in painting, the Last Judgment, and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, in the palace of the Vatican nearby. Michaelangelo's was the master mind that over-topped all others, even in the great age in which he lived. He lived to see all his rivals die and to find himself acknowledged the greatest of all. At the last he also found himself beloved, and his old age was happier than his earlier lifetime.