As you may know, Michelangelo Buonarroti is one of humanity’s greatest sculptors and painters. Everyone who knows a bit about art has heard of David or the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.
The Italian’s immense influence on other artists and the world in general is something yet to be seen again. Even though he spent his life in his homeland, Italy, Michelangelo’s works are now part of exhibitions around the world.
Thousands of tourists and art enthusiasts form queues in front of museums just to take a peek at his creations. His legacy is so powerful that witnessing his art is looking into the eyes of history and revolution. Just knowing that you’re looking at something he once stared at is exciting to say the least.
Although he may be more famous for his sculptures, Michelangelo’s paintings are something extraordinary as well.
Here’s a list of some of them you can (and should!) find in museums across Europe!
The Sistine Chapel Ceiling, Vatican
When it comes to Michelangelo paintings, this group of frescoes is by far the most grandiose one. They cover the entire ceiling of Vatican’s most important chapel and have a legendary status in the art world.
Michelangelo was the type of person who wouldn’t settle for less when it came to his work. The Sistine Chapel is the perfect example. When the pope asked him to depict the 12 Apostles on the ceiling, he ended up painting over 300 figures. What was supposed to be a simple frescoe became one of the most complex paintings in history.
The centerpiece is The Creation of Adam, an iconic scene from the Book of Genesis. Wherever you’re from, you must have seen it at least once in your lifetime. God and Adam almost touching fingers is not only familiar to art historians, but important for pop culture as well!
You will need a moment just to take it all in. All the faces, the shadows and details. It’s hard to imagine someone standing in the same position for years until they’ve created perfection in their own eyes. But that’s what truly makes a genius stick out from everyone else!
The Vatican is famous for having one of the most stunning art collections in the entire world. It is the only state whose cultural property is completely protected in case of war. Among many world class artists, Michelangelo’s paintings and sculptures have a prestigious position.
Doni Tondo, Uffizi Gallery, Florence
This Michelangelo painting is a perfect representation of his signature techniques and colors. Even though the painting hasn’t been signed, there is no doubt that this is his work of art.
It is unique since this is the only saved panel painting by Michelangelo that has been completely finished. The theme is once again Biblical. It portrays the Holy Family – Mary, Joseph and Jesus.
This Michelangelo painting is so authentic and obviously his that experts have noted it even has many characteristics of sculptures. Buonarroti, primarily a sculptor, had successfully transferred his famous skills and style from marble to wood.
The name Doni comes from its owner, Agnolo Doni, who had it made to celebrate his marriage. Tondo refers to the circular form of the panel, which was very popular during the Renaissance.
The Doni Tondo can be found in the Gallerie degli Uffizi in Florence, Italy. The Uffizi has a rich collection of paintings and sculptures, especially works of famous Italian artists. Have in mind that there’s an entire room on the 2nd floor dedicated to Michelangelo only. Grab a slice of pizza and stop by the Gallery later to enjoy some food for the soul! Get your timed entrance ticket here.
The Manchester Madonna, National Gallery, London
This unfinished painting was attributed to Michelangelo long after his death. This is a panel, an art form so rare with Buonarotti, that there are only a couple left.
Originally called The Virgin and Child with Saint John and Angels, it shows Virgin Mary in a heartbreaking scene. She’s holding an open book in her hand and trying to keep it away from Jesus. Many have interpreted this as her trying to save him from reading about his pain and suffering in the future.
The name Manchester Madonna comes from the fact it caused a real frenzy when it first came to Manchester in 1857. The people were beyond excited about it and over a million of them saw it in only a few months.
Today, it can be seen in the UK capital’s National Gallery. This magnificent art museum has an impressive collection of some of the most famous art ever. You can book a walking tour of the National Gallery and the British Museum here. Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Venus and Mars by Botticelli are only a couple you must see with your own eyes. Michelangelo is high up on that list as well!
The Last Judgement, Sistine Chapel, Vatican
We’ve come full circle and returned to the Vatican. Il Giudizio Universale covers the entire wall behind the altar and it took Buonarroti 9 years to finish!
Many believe that this Michelangelo painting is his greatest masterpiece ever. It was heavily inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy and it was just as revolutionary.
Traditionally, the Earth, heaven and hell were always shown as horizontal layers, completely different in characteristics. However, Michelangelo distanced himself from the usual depiction. In his painting, all three form a single large space and neither section is entirely spared from chaos.
The figure of Jesus Christ takes the very central position. He is looking down and, just by waving his hand, deciding the fate of the whole human race. Compared to him, everyone looks powerless.
Many believe Michelangelo incorporated his self-portrait in the frescoe. A morbid detail of St. Bartholomew holding his own skin in his hands might distract you from it. But, if you look closely, the face he’s holding is very similar to Michelangelo’s.
If you only had to see one Michelangelo painting, it might as well be this one!