Why Michelangelo? "I’m Tuscan like Michelangelo and, fortunate or not, I have a similar personality to his. Michelangelo was passionate, he despised bullying and anyone who tried to trick him would induce his wrath. He was taciturn and often a loner, but when he fell in love his defences were breached. Whenever I describe some of his personality traits, it feels like I am baring myself. And while I certainly don’t have anywhere near his artistic genius or cultural knowledge, I do like to tell his stories in the first person."
Why in the first person? "It’s one way to bring Michelangelo closer to readers. Often in art books and biographies, the artist is spoken about in a detached style and people feel excluded from his or her world, almost in awe of the artist’s creative greatness. My goal is to involve everyone in the life of this Renaissance genius by talking about his words and inner torments, recommending his wonderful sonnets and numerous letters."
Five things about Michelangelo that people probably don’t know? "1) He was practically a vegetarian, rarely eating meat after he’d seen anatomical studies on cadavers in the Santo Spirito hospital when he was young. 2) After fleeing from Rome pursued by five papal envoys sent by Julius II, Michelangelo considered emigrating to Turkey—Sultan Bayezid II had offered him a commission to design a bridge between Constantinople and Pera. That bridge finally opened in the 20th century. 3) Michelangelo is often depicted as a dark and difficult person, but he also had a terrific sense of irony, which comes through in his letters. 4) The hand that holds the cup in Michelangelo’s Bacchus and the cup are not originals, but reworkings. There’s a 1555 engraving of the sculpture by Maerten van Heemskerck in which the artwork appears amputated. 5) Countless Michelangelo works have been lost down the centuries, such as the faun mask seized by the Nazis in Poppi Castle. Among the lesser-known works there was also a large Hercules carved in a 2.33-metre block, which was sold to Alfonso di Filippo Strozzi. It changed hands several times and its last sighting was at the Palace of Fontainebleau in 1725. Who knows where it is now!”
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