Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci
Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci were the nucleus of fifteenth- century Florentine art. Also worth citing is the painter and historian Giorgio Vasari . Leonardo and Michelangelo worked on commissions that were nearly side-by- side in the Palazzo della Signoria in Florence. At least a couple. Michelangelo and Leonardo certainly met. Leonardo was the older of the two by more than 20 years. One story of them meeting is told in the anonymous Codice.
Born in and trained in the sculpture academy created by Lorenzo de'Medici in a garden in Florence, by he had carved the Pieta in St Peter's in Rome; in Maythe same month that Leonardo revised his contract with the Signoria of Florence to put back the completion date of The Battle of Anghiari, Michelangelo's statue of David was installed outside the Palazzo Vecchio.
Leonardo, inconceivably, had a rival. Vasari is explicit that this was a contest.
Why Michelangelo Disliked Leonardo da Vinci | The Best Artists
He emphatically says that Michelangelo was commissioned "in competition with Leonardo". With competition came paranoia, hatred. Michelangelo had little time for Leonardo - according to Vasari, he made his dislike so clear that Leonardo left for France to avoid him. For his part, Leonardo made bitchy remarks in his notebooks on the "wooden" qualities of Michelangelo's painting.
So you can't help thinking that Piero Soderini, elected in as lifetime gonfalonier of justice of the Republic - a little like the Venetian doge - had mischief in his mind when he set Leonardo and Michelangelo to work on the same wall. And, yet, what happened in the Palazzo Vecchio turned out to be more mysterious and more private to both these artists than anyone expected.
There was far more at stake than artistic rivalry. The council hall was the centre of a new, more populist idea of the Florentine Republic, which, after the expulsion of the Medici inwas restored with a far greater commitment than ever before to speaking for the entire city.
The rebirth of the Florentine Republic was a moment of intense self-rediscovery for Florence; after a century in which the city had become more like a conventional princedom, it was reasserting republican government. Brilliant minds gave their all to the struggle to recreate the Republic - one of Piero Soderini's close allies was Machiavelli. Historians used to believe, that Machiavelli was instrumental in commissioning Leonardo to decorate the Council Hall. What is certain is that Leonardo and Michelangelo both had new hope for their city.
They had been working far from Florence, in Milan, in Rome. Michelangelo created the Republic's most seductive work of political art, a powerful symbol of manly, energetic, watchful, clear-eyed heroism: David, hero of the weak against the strong, of Florence against tyrannical powers.
The city of Florence had every reason to expect that Leonardo and Michelangelo, as aware as everyone else of the vulnerability and preciousness of the city's freedom, would create patriotic masterpieces, and that rivalry would spur them on. It spurred them all right - but in odd, hermetic,and pessimistic directions. The images of war they created were not bright and celebratory pageants of chivalry, but enigmatic, disturbing.
Preliminary drawings survive of men and horses by Leonardo; there is a copy, attributed to Rubens, taken from an earlier copy, of the central scene of his painting, known as The Battle of the Standard.
Even from these fragments, we can see why contemporaries regarded the Battles of Anghiari and Cascina as the key works of their time - and why they have haunted the representation of war ever since.
Leonardo and Michelangelo, for all their different ages, different styles - Leonardo soft, shadowy, ambiguous; Michelangelo sublimely decisive - and their enmity, had one thing in common.
Neither liked to finish anything. By the time Leonardo was commissioned to paint the Council Hall, everyone knew this about him; what no one knew was that Michelangelo - who had been prodigious - was to become dilatory and difficult.
The whole court spoke of it. His chin raised a notch.
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Leonardo recognized the look. Granacci grabbed his arm as if to restrain him.
What was the boy going to do, punch him? Leonardo could use a good fight. Entertain us, my boy, with glorious tales of your days in ice. Congratulations on discovering an art that abandons his maker before his maker can abandon it.
The last time I was in Rome I did not have time for visiting inconsequential carvings. What are schools teaching students these days?
Had he taken the teasing too far? As the older and wiser artist, should he help this young buck preserve his dignity?
And the winner is ...
The wonders of alchemy. So, with the help of fire, it rose as vapor, but when it flew so high that the air turned cold, it froze and fell from the sky as rain.Conserving Michelangelo
The parched soil drank up the little drop and imprisoned it for a long time: I cannot judge it. None the less, it was Raphael who was hugely favoured by the new pope, Leo X, elected at the beginning of the following year. Indeed, under Leo, Raphael became artistic dictator of Rome, scooping up all the best commissions — including the one to design the tapestries for the Sistine Chapel. The sulphurous envy felt by Michelangelo and his ally, the Venetian painter Sebastiano del Piombo, can be felt in their correspondence.
Had Raphael not died suddenly inhe might well have continued to eclipse Michelangelo. There was, in the view of contemporaries, a hedgehog—and—fox contrast between the two.
Michelangelo did one thing supremely well: Raphael, on the other hand could depict many things — landscapes, beautiful girls, misty perspectives, with most of which Michelangelo did not stoop to bother. The contrast between their treatments of the human body was summed up by one 16th—century critic in the observation that Raphael painted gentlemen, whereas Michelangelo made images of porters that is, figures whose mighty musculature could only have come from ignoble heavy labour.
That is not how we see the comparison between the two today, but in the age of academic classicism it was received opinion that Raphael was the greater artist. That was how Joshua Reynolds, writing in the late 18th century, saw it. It was the Romantic age that rediscovered the majestic force of Michelangelo's art. Raphael was Michelangelo's most dangerous rival, but artistic contests continued throughout Michelangelo's life. Venetians tended, understandably, to consider Titian the greatest of painters.
Vasari relates a wonderfully bitchy remark made to him by Michelangelo after visiting Titian's studio. To Titian's face, of course, Vasari and Michelangelo praised his work. After leaving, Michelangelo commented on what a great painter Titian would have been if only he had been taught to draw properly. In his seventies and eighties, Michelangelo was pursued by a now—forgotten figure named Nanni di Baccio Bigio, who wanted to replace him as architect of St Peter's, and loudly, unavailingly complained that the great man was senile, incompetent and knew nothing of architecture.
Conflicts between powerful egos were a part of 16th century artistic life — as they still are today.