Michelangelo by Müntz, Eugène; Michelangelo Buonarroti

By Müntz, Eugène; Michelangelo Buonarroti

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A few years later, Michelangelo, roughed out two circular low reliefs, each called Madonna with Child, although this art form suited him only mildly. The first is at the Royal Academy of London and distinguished as the Tondo Taddei after Taddeo Taddei, a Florentine art lover and friend of Raphael’s; the second is the Pitti Tondo, named after the commissioning Bartolomeo Pitti, and now at the Museo Nazionale, Bargello of Florence. In the Bargello medallion, the Virgin is seated on a block of stone (Michelangelo shunned all decorative trappings such as thrones and baldachins); with her left hand she holds a Child who is standing yet asleep on the book in her lap; she is huddled over (the foreshortening arguably lacks fullness) in a pose of perfect grace and freedom of movement as her gaze looks off to one side.

Battle of the Centaurs, the Angel Holding a Candelabra, and the The Holy Family (Tondo Doni); is the overemphasised muscles of his heroes. Instead of being round and pudgy, even the child figures have arms that look able to handle the heaviest chores and roughest fist-fights – this rebel genius yearned for a more robust humanity replete with more powerful limbs and more muscular bodies. Moving moral messages worried him little at the time: the facial features are usually morose or impassive. Like the Ancient Greeks, he was sacrificing faces for torsos.

P. 37) Marble, height: 174 cm. St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican. qxp 12/26/2011 4:12 PM Page 38 used cadavers. Ghirlandaio, the so-called ‘master’, neither instructed nor influenced the so-called ‘student’. To date, we have only two Michelangelo drawings inspired by Ghirlandaio: one in the Louvre and one in the Albertina. Michelangelo’s stay with the Medici powerfully sharpened his thinking and education. Living amidst the family’s priceless collections, he developed an easy familiarity with the tiniest art secrets of Antiquity.

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