Born in the Tuscan town of Caprese in 1475, he was one of the greatest exponents of late-Renaissance art, and together with Raphael, founder of the styles of Classicism and Mannerism. He learned the basic rudiments of painting and sculpture with Domenico Ghirlandaio and Bertoldo di Giovanni, a pupil of Donatello respectively. He quickly threw himself into his artistic work, creating his first noteworthy statues: the "Virgin of the Steps" (1490-92) and the "Battle of the Centaurs" at the Buonarroti house in Florence. He then moved to Bologna for a time, and in the Church of St. Dominic he sculpted "St. Petronius", "St. Proclus" and an "Angel" (1494-95) as the crowning part of a marble arch. He then went to Rome, where he created "Bacchus" (1496-97), now at the Bargello Museum in Florence, and the world famous "Pietà" (1496) in St. Peter's (see under pietà), in which the intense grief of the Virgin is realistic, just as the muscles, nerves and expressions are"real". From a slightly later date is the "Virgin and Child" (1498-1501) at the Notre-Dame church in Bruges, and the "Pitti Virgin" (1503) at the Bargello Museum, an excellent example of bas-relief on a tondo, the circular shape he later used for some of his paintings, suchas the famous "Doni tondo" or "Holy Family and St. Giovannino" (1504) at the Uffizi. This last work, along with the no longer surviving frescos of the "Battle of Cascina" in the Palazzo Vecchio, worked on alongside Leonardo da Vinci's "Battle of Anghiari" cartoons, also lost, and the "Taddei tondo" in the Royal Academy in London is one of his most perfect painted works, an artform he later concentrated on after having mastered the art of sculpture.The later work, the "Deposition in the sepulchre" (1511) now at the National gallery in London, has been attributed to him, despite much uncertainty. He also worked on the extraordinary frescos in the Sistine Chapel, Rome, painting the "Scenes of the Genesis, Prophets, Sybil and the Naked" (1508-12) and the "Final Judgement" (1536-41), then in the Paolina Chapel he painted the "Martyrdom of St. Peter" and the "Conversion of Saul" (1542-50). In these admirable examples of his maturity Michelangelo created monumental figures of great plasticity, realistic giants with emotions, feelings and pain, with their twisted bodies in accordance with the Mannerist style, and pastel-toned robes wrapped around their bodies as if they were Greek statues. His works of sculpture include the magnificent "David" (1501-04) at the Accademia Gallery, a worthy heir to the classical athletes of Polycletus, Praxiteles or Lisippo, "St. Paul", "St. Peter" and "St. Pius" (1503-04) in Siena Cathedral. For Pope Julius II he sculpted "The dying slave" (1513), now at the Louvre, "Moses" (1515) in St. Peter in Chains Church in Rome, with its solemn power, and the "Prisons" (1530-34) at the Accademia in Florence. The great artist reached the peak of his splendour with the the Tombs of Giuliano and Lorenzo de' Medici in the church of San Lorenzo (1525-34), where he also architected the new vestry (also in Florence he built the Laurenziana Library), with the "Pietà" (1550-55) in Florence Cathedral and the "Rondanini Pietà" (1552-66) at the Castello Sforzesco in Milan, as well as with the Campidoglio Piazza and the Farnese Palace in Rome (both were built between 1544 and 1550) and with the Building of St. Peter (from 1546 on). This extraordinarily talented late-Renaissance Italian artist died in 1564.

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