Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475 - 1564)

RA Collection: People and Organisations

Born in 1475 in the Republic of Florence, the Italian artist Michelangelo was long celebrated as the greatest practitioner of the three visual arts of sculpture, painting and architecture. He was also a respected poet, although in spite of his various achievements the artist considered himself primarily as a sculptor.

One of the chief creators of the High Renaissance, Michelangelo’s fame in his own lifetime was unprecedented. He was the first Western artist whose biography was published during his lifetime, most importantly by the influential Giorgio Vasari who claimed Michelangelo as the culmination of Renaissance art. Michelangelo was considered the supreme exponent of the Florentine disegno, a term meaning both drawing and the intellectual ability to make a design. Michelangelo’s art is particularly regarded for its terribilità, a term indicative of heroic and awe-inspiring grandeur, although as his range of interests indicates, he has also been taken as an exemplar of the rounded Renaissance genius.

The power and originality of Michelangelo’s art has guaranteed his prominence as a historical figure for over 400 years since his death. His champions included the RA’s first President, Sir Joshua Reynolds, whose lectures set out his vision of Michelangelo as an example for British artists to aspire to. Michelangelo’s work was well-known in Britain, whether through collections of his drawings being assembled by connoisseurs such as Sir Thomas Lawrence (another RA President) or the many prints made after works such as his Last Judgement fresco in the Sistine Chapel, from the 16th century onwards. The acquisition of Michelangelo’s Taddei Tondo by the RA in the nineteenth century was particularly significant as it provided an example of Michelangelo’s sculpture which Academicians could study.


Born: 1475

Died: 18 February 1564

Gender: Male

Works by Michelangelo Buonarroti in the RA Collection

51 results

Works after Michelangelo Buonarroti in the RA Collection

41 results

Works associated with Michelangelo Buonarroti in the RA Collection

4 results

Associated books

54 results

Associated archives

64 results