Michelangelo was one of the greatest geniuses of the Italian Renaissance and his name is synonymous with one of the greatest and most important artists of all time. Here we will present the most emblematic Michelangelo sculptures that everyone should know:
Madonna Of The Stairs
The Madonna or Virgin of the stairs is a low relief in marble carved between 1490 and 1492 and one of the most famous of Michelangelo sculptures. The work was completed before Michelangelo turned 17, while still studying in the gardens of the Medici, in Florence, with Bertolo di Giovanni.
This low relief depicts the Virgin sitting on stairs holding and covering her son, who lies asleep.
The stairs complete the rest of the background and, in the background, you can see two children playing, while a third child rests on the handrail.
A fourth child is behind the Virgin and seems to be helping a reclining child to stretch a handkerchief (a clear allusion to the shroud of Christ) that both support.
This work highlights the heritage of classical Antiquity. For this reason, the concept of ataraxia, typical of epicurean philosophy, which consists in the absence of restlessness of spirit, is notorious.
The difference between this concept and apathy is that in ataraxia there is no denial or elimination of feelings, but that it promotes happiness trying to find the strength to overcome pain and difficulties.
Thus, the Virgin is impassive in contemplating the future sacrifice of her son, not because this does not make her suffer, but because she finds a way to overcome this pain stoically.
For the realization of this low relief, Michelangelo made use of the technique of Donatello (Italian Renaissance sculptor, 1386-1466), called sticiatto (flattened). The Michelangelo sculptures are unique because they have a deep meaning to them.
Made after the Madonna of the stairs, Centauromaquia (battle of the centaurs) is a marble relief executed around 1492, when Michelangelo still roamed the gardens of the Medici.
It depicts the episode between the centaurs and the pencils, when, at the wedding of Princess Hypodamia and Pirítou, king of the pencils, one of the centaurs tried to kidnap the princess, which resulted in a battle.
The bodies are twisted and tangled, which makes it difficult to distinguish who is who. Linked to each other, some defeated on the ground, all convey despair in the middle of the battle.
With this work, the Michelangelo sculptures already assume an obsession with nudes, because for him human beauty was an expression of the divine. Thus, contemplating a work that represents that beauty through nakedness is contemplating the greatness of God.
This relief is intentionally unfinished, something characteristic of Michelangelo’s work, which soon assumes the concept of the incomplete as an aesthetic category, the non-finite .
It is only a few parts of the body (mostly the trunks of the figures) that are worked and polished, while the heads and feet are incomplete.