(by Martin Gayford)
Straightfoward but intelligent and informed biography of the world’s greatest visual artist, well sourced and well imagined.
Even when he ran out of puff, money or interest, he still managed to do great things; e.g. his incomplete (although officially deemed finished after 45 years of tinkering) tomb of Julius II, with its magnificent centrepiece of Moses.
Ridiculously prolific even though he could be a right sod in negotiating and delivering his famous services, as multi-talented as his rival Leonardo, as contradictory as all men, Michelangelo is still “the one to beat”.
“And who is He that sculptured in huge stone,
Sitteth a giant, where no works arrive
Of straining Art, and hath so prompt and live
The lips, I hasten to their very tone?
Moses is He—Ay, that makes clearly known
The chin’s thick boast, and brow’s prerogative
Of double ray; so did the mountain give
Back to the world that visage, God was grown
Great part of! Such was he when he suspended
Round him the sounding and vast waters; such
When he shut sea on sea o’er Mizraim.
And ye, his hordes, a vile calf raised, and bended
The knee? This Image had ye raised, not much
Had been your error in adoring Him.”