Did Michelangelo Invent Anything?

Tim Ellis/CC-BY-2.0

Although Michelangelo is famous for his versatility and genius as a painter, sculptor, poet and architect, he was not an inventor, unlike fellow Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci. Due to the awe-inspiring intensity of his personal artistic style, Michelangelo is considered one of the early practitioners and great role models of the art movement known as Mannerism.

Although Michelangelo was born into a family of modest means, he became an apprentice in a Florentine painter’s workshop when he was 13; a year later, he moved into the palace of the Medici family to study under a renowned sculptor. To learn human anatomy, he obtained permission from the Catholic Church to study cadavers. Even as a teen, he began to sculpt notable works of art. He was in his 20s when he created two of his most famous sculptures, the “Pieta” and “David.”

After beginning to sculpt an elaborate tomb for Pope Julius II, the pope asked Michelangelo to stop and decorate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. For four years, Michelangelo worked on his back on high scaffolding to paint more than 300 figures. In later life, he focused on architecture. Among his projects was the planning of the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica. Although he managed to complete the overall design and the supporting ring, he died before the rest of the dome was finished.