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Most Famous Sculptures and Paintings of Michelangelo

Updated on May 17, 2017

Michelangelo Buonarroti can best be described as a Renaissance artist of so many trades. Highly skilled and multi-talented, we can't talk about art without mentioning Michelangelo.

Asides being a renowned painter, he was also a sculptor, poet, engineer, and an architect.

Born in 1475, he was an artist whose paintings generally reflected his own self-appraisal, but he considered himself more of a sculptor than a painter.

A Portrait of Michelangelo
A Portrait of Michelangelo | Source

As a sculptor, Michelangelo created colossal forms that showed heroic, vital, and muscular silhouettes using both male and female figures.

And as a painter, his many nude figures were done in unusual contortions . . . they were either incredibly foreshortened or illustrated as profiles floating through the air.

He used his style of painting to express deep and intense thoughts and his art has been likened to Hellenistic sculpture which displays a state of restrained might.

One of his most famous works, the Pieta was commissioned in 1497 by the then French Ambassador. He was asked to finish a work that had been in progress for about forty years. This work is called the Statue of David.

He designed the dome for St. Peter's Basilica but was unable to finish the work before he passed away in 1564.

Michelangelo is credited with initiating the next major Art Movement of the time, referred to as ‘Mannerism’. He had two biographies written about him while he was still alive, a unique act during the Renaissance period.

Most Famous Works of Michelangelo

Though Michelangelo was under the instructions of humanist Francesco da Urbino, he seemed to be more interested in copying church paintings and sketches and at the age of thirteen, he was apprenticed to a painter for proper tutoring.

The Sistine Chapel

During the period he spent working on the Pope's tomb (on and off for forty years), Michelangelo took the charge for the painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Though many art historians speculate it took many, many years to paint, it took him just four years to complete.

Painting the ceiling of the Chapel was no easy feat! The task was performed with his back laid flat on a scaffold, painting on 10,000sq ft of plaster.

The figures he painted included those of prophets, sibyls and many other figures from the Old Testament. His subjects in this famous work visibly expressed super-human energies.

The Last Judgement

This fresco, also known as “The Final Judgement” was painted by Michelangelo in his old age. It is perhaps his most complex work of art

It lies on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel and illustrates a "giant-like" Christ, a terror-stricken Mary, and a combat of nude giants.

This mighty composition painted by Michelangelo between 1536 and 1541 was commissioned by Pope Clement VII (1523-1534) shortly before his death.

The original subject of the mural commissioned by the late Pope Clement was the resurrection of Christ, but after of his demise, Pope Paul III his successor changed the subject to “The Last Judgment”. He probably felt it was a more fitting subject for Rome of the 1530s.

The artwork depicts nude figures and portrayed the separation of the blessed and the damned. He did this by showing the saved ascending (to heaven) on the left and the damned descending (to hell?) on the right.


This Renaissance masterpiece of Michelangelo is a starkly nude sculpture that was created by between 1501 and 1504. It is a larger than life marble masterpiece that stands over five metres (17ft.) tall in a public square outside the Palazzo Della Signoria, Florence. It was later moved to the Galleria dell'Accademia and a replica set in its original spot.

The standing nude male statue represents the Biblical hero David and was a favored subject in the art of Florence.

This famous sculpture soon came to symbolize the defense of civil liberties with the eyes of David, like a warning glare, turned towards the direction of Rome.

Dome of St. Peters Basilica

This was designed by Michelangelo.

The architecture of the St Peters Basilica, also called The Papal Basilica of St. Peter (in the Vatican) is a wonder to behold. Its dome rises to a height of over 136 metres from the floor of the basilica to the top of the external cross making it the tallest dome in the world.

St. Peters is one of the four churches of Rome that hold the rank of Major Basilica and is considered the greatest building of its age. This monumental structure has influenced subsequent designs of domes in architectural design.

It was still a work in progress when Michelangelo passed away in 1564; only the drum of the dome was constructed.


Since its creation in 1499, the Pietà has never ceased to inspire emotion, and faith through its elegant depiction of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

It is widely regarded as the Vatican's greatest artistic treasure.

Being one of the first of a number of works with a similar theme by the artist, the marble structure was made for the French Cardinal Jean de Bilhères who commissioned it for his own funeral monument.

This famous statue depicts the body of Christ on Mary’s lap after his Crucifixion.

Michelangelo’s Pietà was moved to its present location . . . the first chapel on the right when you walk into the Basilica, in the 18th century.

It is the only piece of structure that Michelangelo ever signed.

© 2012 artsofthetimes


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