Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Michelangelo's World

Michelangelo's World

J. Patrick Lewis
For ages 10 and up
Creative Company, 2007   ISBN: 978-1568461670

Many of us know that Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti was a virtuoso sculptor and painter. We may know that he was the man who designed the dome of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. What few of us know is that Michelangelo was also a poet. He wrote dozens of poems and sonnets, and in recognition of this extraordinary talent the author of this unique biography tells Michelangelo's story using a combination of prose and sonnets.

Michelangelo had a very modest upbringing in Caprese and Florence. In the great city where art flourished young Michelango met and befriended Francesco Granacci, a painter. Granacci quickly saw that Michelangelo had great promise as an artist and when he was still just a boy Michelangelo went to work in the painter's workshop as an apprentice. He was there for three years and then Lorenzo the Magnificent, the head of the de'Medici family, invited Michelangelo to come and live in his house. There Michelangelo was given a good education and he sculpted two magnificent works which proved to the world that he was very talented indeed.

Unfortunately the good fortunes of Florence did not last. After the death of Lorenzo de'Medici Florence entered a time of great difficulty. A Dominican friar called Girolamo Savonarola began to condemn art and literature and many magnificent books and paintings were burned on his order. His reign of terror lasted for four years until the miserable people of Florence turned against him and burned him, just as he had burned so many of their treasures.

This was not a good time to be an artist but Michelangelo was still offered work though he sometimes had to travel away from Florence to find it. One of his most famous sculptures, The Pieta, was created in Rome during the end of Savonarola's ?rule' at the request of a French Cardinal. On returning to Florence, Michelangelo created his famous statue of David which delights art lovers from all over the world to the present day.

Later Michelangelo was invited to return to Rome. There he began to work on the Pope's tomb but he had to set this project aside for a while when the Pope then told Michelangelo that he wanted the artist to paint the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. This enormous painting is often considered to be Michelangelo's greatest work.

His biggest work was the dome of Rome's St. Peter Basilica which can be seen for miles on the skyline of the great city. Michelangelo was still working on this massive work when he died in February of 1564.

With many illustrations, photographs, and his excellent sonnets, the author of this book presents his readers with a very unique picture of what Michelangelo was like. We learn that he was a man who often fought with friends and family and who felt that he was married to his art and was a father to his works. We also get to see some of his most well-known creations and learn the stories behind them.

All in all this book will give readers a very intriguing look at the life of one of the world's most talented people.