Michelangelo's first work of note was the Cupid statue. Michelangelo sculpted the piece and then artificially aged it so that it represented an antique. It was purchased by Cardinal Riario of San Giorgio, who was upset upon learning that the statue was a new piece but loved it so much that he invited the artist to come to Rome. Michelangelo grew to prominence as a sculptor for the church Cardinals.
After moving to Rome, Michelangelo received a commission from Cardinal Jean Bilheres de Lagraulas, who acted as King Charles VIII of France's representative to the pope. At age 25, he created the Pieta, a sculpture of the Mary holding the body of Jesus. When Michelangelo returned to Florence, he had already made a name for himself as an artist, which grew when he created the David sculpture after three previous artists had attempted and then given up on the piece.
Before he was invited to Rome to begin his career, Michelangelo was recognized by his master, Domineco Ghirlandaio after only a year of apprenticeship in painting. Ghirlandaio recommended Michelangelo for a position at the court of Florentine king Lorenzo Medici. Here, Michelangelo was exposed to the social elite as well as new techniques, including sculpting. He also began studying cadavers with permission from the Catholic church and continued developing a name for himself as an artist.