Renaissance Sculptors
by Tyler

When our class studied the Renaissance, I became very interested in Renaissance sculpture. Some of the sculptures seem more lifelike than real life to me! They are truly amazing.

Here are reports I wrote on three Renaissance sculptors. They are arranged in order of who's the most famous, which happens to be reverse order of when they were born.


Born March 6, 1475, Caprese, Republic of Florence (Italy)
Died Feb. 18, 1564, Rome, Papal States

Michelangelo Buonarroti was considered the greatest living artist of his time. Michelangelo's genius was technical skill, understanding anatomy and movement, and an ability to show emotion in his art. He changed the course of painting and sculpture in Europe.

Michelangelo made his sculptures out of marble by chiseling the shape out of a marble block. He had to know exactly what shape he wanted to make because you can't fix mistakes on marble.

Many people say Michelangelo's Pieta, a sculpture of Mary and Jesus, is the greatest work of sculpture ever created. Michelangelo was probably younger than 25 when he sculpted Pieta.

Pieta is the only sculpture Michelangelo signed, but he regretted this and never signed another of his works.

Michelangelo's sculpture of David is very famous . The statue is huge-over 14 feet tall.  Renaissance artists tried to mimic the style of classical Greek and Roman art, but Michelangelo proved with David that he could do even better. Another famous sculpture of Michelangelo's is Crouching Boy. Not surprisingly, it is a sculpture of a crouching boy.

Crouching Boy
Crouching Boy
David (detail of face)
Sistine Chapel Michelangelo is also famous for his frescoes on the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City. (A fresco is a painting on wet plaster.)

Michelangelo tried to turn down the job because he considered himself a sculptor, not a painter.  The Pope insisted, so Michelangelo spent four years painting while lying on his back on scaffolding high above the floor.

After he was finished, Michelangelo commented that he was only 37 but friends did not recognize the old man he had become.

Creation - Detail of Sistine Chapel

Detail of Sistine Chapel

Born 1386, Florence
Died Dec. 13, 1466, Florence

Donatello was one of the greatest Renaissance sculptors. He sculpted in marble and bronze.

Donatello's David
Donatello's sculptures showed an understanding of how the human body worked, and the personalities of his subjects were vivid and proud.

His bronze statue of David was the first large scale, free standing nude of the Renaissance.

Note: a bronze sculpture is made by casting. Casting is where the artist designs a mold, and the metal sculpture is made out of that mold.

Donatello's Atys

Lorenzo Ghiberti
Born 1378, Pelago, Italy
Died Dec. 1, 1455, Florence

Lorenzo Ghiberti was an important early Italian Renaissance sculptor. He is most famous for the Gates of Paradise, the doors of the Baptistery of the cathedral of Florence.

The doors have gilded bronze sculptures.  "Gilded" means that they are covered in gold!  It's no wonder they are the Gates of Paradise.

Gates of Paradise
Gates of Paradise
Ghiberti also designed stained glass windows for the cathedral.

Ghiberti made many other famous sculptures and his workshop was very successful.

Ghiberti wrote papers on art history and theory and helped train many famous Renaissance sculptors who worked as his assistants. One of these sculptors was Donatello.

Detail, Gates of Paradise
Detail, Gates of Paradise
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