What Is the Legacy of Michelangelo?

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Michelangelo Buonarroti was an Italian Renaissance artist whose legacy resides in his most famous works: the "Pieta," "Moses" and "David" sculptures. He is renowned for his painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. Michelangelo was also the architect of St. Peter's Basilica.

Michelangelo's first famous piece was the "Pieta." Made out of marble, “Pieta" depicts Mary holding Christ after the crucifixion. It parallels Renaissance ideals of beauty and grace. His piece titled "Moses" is adored as a masterpiece. It represents the biblical account of Moses's anger at the Israelites' worship of false idols. Staying true to his expertise of sculpting biblical heroes, "David" is another revered piece of Michelangelo’s legacy.

Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the main chapel of the Vatican Palace, the Sistine Chapel. The Sistine Chapel was to be the venue of the upcoming pope’s election.

Along the 12,000-square foot ceiling, Michelangelo painted stories from the Old Testament, including the "Creation of Adam." On the altar wall, he painted "The Last Judgment" portraying the condemnation of humankind and social justice.

Today, the Sistine Chapel is a part of the Vatican Museums. Michelangelo's work encompasses his technical abilities. Even when painting on the ceiling on such a large canvas, he managed to exercise supreme skill and ability.

Michelangelo was also the architect of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. Serving as the world's largest Basilica of Christianity, it is still a famous attraction in Vatican City.