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Snippet of The Sculptor's Funeral: Episode 50 - Michelangelo and the Tomb of Pope Julius

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A brief history of Michelangelo, and his competition with Leonardo, one of his longest commissions, sculptors, paintings, and more.
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and today we turn our attention once again to Michelangelo, as though we could ever really turn our attention away from him. And we're going to discuss some of his mature works. The period in his life after his rise to fame was complete, which was brought about by the completion of the David in 15 04 Now the study of Michelangelo's Middle Years is a study in opposing forces in Michelangelo's life and work. It's Florence versus Roam, the Papacy versus secular princes. Pro Medici in versus anti Medici in forces. Leonardo versus Michelangelo. Bramante versus Michelangelo. Painting versus sculpture, sculpture versus architectures. This span contains some of Michelangelo's greatest works and greatest frustrations. Despite Michelangelo's tremendous education, tremendous talent, infinite capacity for labor and now universal fame, it cannot be said that he had it easy during this time. It was during this time span that Michelangelo made some of his best known works, Ah, long list, which includes the frescoes on the ceiling and wall of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, the Moses, the Bruges Madonna, Siris of slaves and captives. He left unfinished his reclining allegories of dawn, dusk, day and night, and it is when we find Michelangelo beginning his exploration into architecture. We, of course, today will focus on his sculpture and specifically ah, singular commission, which would occupy Michelangelo on and off for 40 years. Though it never came close to being completed as it was initially intended, more figures and marble were begun and then discarded for this commission than ever made it onto the finished work. Nevertheless, those remnants of this commission the figures from the commission that never made the cut half lives of their own outside of their original intentions, which speaks volumes to their quality and significance in the history of art. So starting where we left off in the past episode dealing with Michelangelo, we find the young Michelangelo not quite 30 years old, but recently become a celebrity on the order of his older rival, Leonardo da Vinci, who himself had become a superstar with the completion of his fresco of The Last Supper in Milan on Lee. Six or seven years earlier, the Republic of Florence, realizing just what an asset they had in Michelangelo, wanted to keep his talents at the service of the republic and thus increase its own glory. The Church officials connected to the Duomo also felt this, especially after realizing that the colossal David would not be part of the church fabric as originally intended. The D. Uomo signed a contract with Michelangelo for 12 statues of apostles for the interior of the church to be carved once Michelangelo was done carving his David. And so once the David was done. Strangely, the first thing that Michelangelo turned his attention to was not sculpture at all. Even though he had the commission for the 12 Apostles, he instead turned to fresco painting. Now Michelangelo had not done fresco since the time of his apprenticeship to Domenico Gil Indio in his early teens, and he had only dabbled in painting occasionally and on a small scale. But the senior area of Florence commissioned Michelangelo not only for a very large scale wall mural to go into the town hall, the Palazzo Vecchio, but that work would be a companion piece for another fresco on the opposite wall, currently being planned for execution by none other than Leonardo da Vinci himself. Now there are historians that speculate as to whether Michelangelo would have taken this commission if it weren't for the fact that receiving this commission placed him on a par with the greatest painter of the day and even gave him a chance to take that title for himself. This direct competition between Leonardo and Michelangelo is a very interesting topic, but long story short Michelangelo Onley ever got as far as the planning stage for his fresco. His enormous preparatory drawing was cut up in stolen over the years, and only a copy made by another artist survives. As for Leonardo's fresco, he had experimented with his medium for fresco in this work and sometimes experiments and in failure. And this was one of those. Leonardo's painting started to peel off the wall before Leonardo even finished it, and it was eventually painted over. But Michelangelo didn't abandon this fresco project due to experiments gone wrong or because he lost interest or anything like that. Know what had happened was what the scenery a of Florence had feared. Michelangelo was enticed away by bigger and better projects in far off lands and who, bigger than the pope and what better commission than a papel tomb? Pope Julius the second achieved the pontificate in 15 03 Justus Michelangelo was finishing the David Pope. Julius was a member of the ambitious, wealthy and well connected Della Rovere, a family, and he was a doozy of a pope, even for Renaissance Popes, every bit of scheming and pragmatic as the hated Borgia Pope Alexander the seventh all evidence indicates that Giuliano Della Rovere became Pope Julius, the second through bribery, false promises, political alliances and intimidation. He became known during his lifetime as the warrior pope, and his Papacy was marked not just by political intrigue but by military campaigns in which he sought to dominate the Italian Peninsula. As with many Renaissance Popes, you have the illegitimate child and the string of mistresses and the general abuse of authority and power, which is unseemly in a secular ruler and hypocritical and disturbing in a religious ruler. But you and I can forgive all this because, hey, Pope Julius A second he was into art, and he put his money where his mouth was. He instituted the single greatest architectural project in Italy in the 16th century, very shortly after becoming pope, the building of the superlative Basilica of ST Peter's in Rome, the very heart of Christendom, a church built, it was said on the very sight of the tomb of ST Peter, the first pope and apostle of Jesus. The first thing to be carried out was the demolition of the Old Basilica of ST Peter. Now that church had stood on that spot for over 1000 years, and this humble fifth century structure was now to be replaced by a cathedral, which truly matched the power and glory of the Holy Roman church. The architect was Donato Bramante, the preeminent high Renaissance architect in Rome. The cornerstone for God's greatest palace was laid by Pope Julius himself in 15 06 and even before that cornerstone had been laid, Pope Julius was making plans for the first work of art to grace the interior of ST Peter's, a magnificent tomb for himself, and only Michelangelo himself would suit as its creator in 15 05 apparently under secretive conditions, Michelangelo, in exchange for ah 100 florins, had agreed to return to Rome to serve the Pope 100 Florence, just to come to Rome above any commissions he might receive there, 100 Florence was fully half of what he was paid to create his Pieta which took two years. Ah, 100 Florence is what he was paid for his Bruges, Madonna, and now he was just being handed that some just to come down and say hello to the Pope. Who could say no? The design for the tomb of Pope Julius that Michelangelo came up with is almost outlandish in its grandeur. It was designed not just to compete with the tombs of Roman emperors, but to surpass them. The tomb would actually be a mausoleum, a freestanding architectural structure within ST Peter's measuring six by 9 m, or about 20 by 30 ft. And it was to be three stories tall. Imagine a sort of a three stepped pyramid sort of structure, and you kind of get the idea. Each step of this pyramid, that is, each story of this structure would be decorated with biblical and allegorical figures on all four sides. Each level of figures would represent various levels of human existence. According to Christian and neo platonic theologies, the lowest level of the pyramid would represent the material world, an existence in which the immortal soul is bound up and captive within valuable human flesh. Accordingly, the allegorical figures would represent slaves and captives or prisoners. Each allegorical figure would show a different state of the soul as it struggles with the mortal world encased in human flesh. And Michelangelo would represent these figures in bindings and chains, symbolic of how the soul is tied to the body and how the body itself submits to the will of the soul. Now the middle level of this pyramid and its figures would represent the soul in its eternal state embodied and figures, which would represent theological virtues or ideals. So these statues would be of biblical figures, which encapsulate these virtues, like ST Paul and Moses, who represent the laws of the old and the New Testaments on then the figures of Rachel and Leah, representing the virtues of Christian life in both its active and it's contemplative path towards salvation. The final sort of top tier of this enormous tomb would represent the soul in communion with God, where we find the portrait statue of Julius himself flanked by angels. This entire structure, if it could be completed, would be the masterpiece of the century, the definitive theological and philosophical statement of mankind's relation to his God. On Lee, a Renaissance Warrior pope could have the audaciousness to conceive of such a work, and only Michelangelo could be audacious enough to take on the task. The commission is the coming together of near infinite power, genius and hubris. As if to illustrate just how transcendent both pope and sculptor believed their combined powers to be, they agreed that this mausoleum and it's 47 large scale figures should be completed within five years. Michelangelo lost little time in making preparations for his work, fresh from spending several years carving the giant David from a dried out block of imperfecta marble. It's not surprising to see Michelangelo traveling to Carrara himself, to hand select the stone directly from the marble quarries there, a process which in itself would take several months. Michelangelo then came back to Rome, arriving before his shipment of marble did and began preparations in earnest. And while he was making his arrangements. Ah, wonderful, wonderful event happened one of those truly magical moments in the history of art, when circumstances seem almost to be guided by an unseen hand and this event starts with a Roman farmer named Felicia Day, Freddie's now fill each had a small plot of land on which he planted a vineyard on the outskirts of the center of Rome. And while he was digging on his land, perhaps preparing a foundation for a house he intended to build their Felicia discovers several marble figures at the bottom of the hole he's digging. Word quickly spreads and reaches the ears of Pope Julius, who sends word immediately to his court architect, Giuliano da San Galo, now San Gallo was a Florentine, uneducated, humanist and personal friend of both Pope Julius, the second, and Michelangelo. In fact, it was probably San Gallo who first suggested to Julius that Michelangelo should create the tomb anyway. Michelangelo happened to be at San Gallows House when word of the discovery arrived, and the two of them, accompanied by San Golos son Francesco, go at once to see the sculptures lying at the bottom of this whole. In Francesco's retelling of the incident years later, he says that no sooner had his father looked upon the statuary in the pit than he exclaimed to Michelangelo, it is the lagoon off plenty. Now, what was Giuliano da San Gallo talking about who was plenty? What was the lie? A Coon. Well, plenty. The elder was a first century Roman author and naturalist. He wrote a hugely influential book called The Natural History, which became the prototype for all encyclopedias later on. The natural history is the greatest collection of knowledge we have about the life and times of the Roman Empire and the education, beliefs, technology and culture of the people who lived during that time. It's a wonderful, entertaining book filled with entries on various subjects, just like you would find in any encyclopedia and one of the categories of knowledge included in the natural history deals with the arts. In the section on sculpture, Plenty gives a rundown of all the greatest sculptors of Greece and Rome and their greatest works right up to the time of his writing in the first century. A D. Now plenty of the elder tells us more about Greek and Roman sculpture than any other single source, which survives from antiquity. Accordingly, plenty. The Elders chapter on sculpture would have practically been regarded as Scripture to the Florentine artists and certainly to the likes of Giuliano da San Golo and Michelangelo, both of whom would have studied plenty in their youths as part of their humanist educations at the court of the Medici. San Gallo was an architect 30 years older than Michelangelo, and he was also an authority on the antique generally, which is why Pope Julius sent for San Gallo to inspect the newly discovered sculpture instead of Michelangelo. And indeed it is San Gallo who instantly recognizes the sculpture in the pit from a description he had read in plenty. The relevant passage is as follows lagoon in the Palace of the Emperor Titus Ah, work that may be looked upon as preferable to any other production of the art of painting or a statuary. It is sculptured from a single block, both the main figure, as well as the Children and the serpents, with their marvelous folds. This group was made in concert by three most eminent artists. Alexander, Polly, Doris and Athena Doris, natives of roads. So, according to plenty, the greatest sculpture in ancient times was the Liya Kun, a sculpture of some guy named Leah Coon and his sons, and a few serpents thrown in as well. And that's exactly what Sam Gallo and Michelangelo we're looking at in the bottom of this trench Leah Coon. By the way, he's a character out of the A need by the Roman poet Virgil Lakin is a Trojan priest of the God Poseidon who attempts to warn the Trojan populace that the large wooden horse being offered as a gift to their city was a trap. Ah, popular paraphrase of lack wins. Warning is still with us today. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts after Leia Coons, warning the gods who favored the Greeks sent serpents from out of the sea to devour the unfortunately, a coon along with his two sons. Now the discovery of the work, which plenty himself had described as superior toe. All other Roman art was a spectacular discovery, and it was celebrated in Rome at the time. And the restored sculpture itself, which has stood in the Vatican since its discovery, has always been regarded as one of the most important and influential works of art in European history. And the first artist influenced by the lagoon was Michelangelo himself,