The Agony and the Ecstasy

Michelangelo has got to be one of the most unique and remarkable men in history.  He was a sculptor beyond compare, who only painted reluctantly, under pressure from popes.  But those paintings, the Sistine Ceiling and the Last Judgment (the front wall of the Sistine Chapel), rank as two of the greatest paintings ever.  And besides that, this non-architect sculptor designed the monumental St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.  His artistic genius was amazing.  His sculptures included David, the Pieta and Moses.  But there were so many more.

Michelangelo loved sculpture.  It was his life, his love, his passion.  It indeed meant too much to him.  He worked indefatigably.  He would work nearly non-stop at times, barely stopping to eat or sleep.


He was so committed to his art that he would sneak into a place where there were dead bodies and perform dissections on them.  He would do this to understand the human body better in order to improve his sculpting.  He would do this even though it caused him to be sick and nauseous and there was inadequate hygiene.  He did it despite the fact that carving on a dead body was highly illegal at the time.  No one did it.

Michelangelo’s hard work and commitment to sculpting makes me ashamed that I am not more committed and zealous for the gospel.

Michelangelo was honest and blunt, loyal and good-hearted, proud and confident.

He was born in 1475 and died in 1564 at 89 years of age.  Amazingly, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, two of the greatest artists ever, perhaps the greatest, lived at the same time, in the same country, even in the same city for a time.  Furthermore, there were so many other gifted artists in Florence at the same time.  Truly, this was the golden age of Renaissance art, and

Florence was the epicenter.

This biographical novel is not a quick read (758 pages) but it is a superb book.  The reader will learn about the remarkable life of Michelangelo, and on the way the reader will also learn about Italian history, the Renaissance, the Medici, Florence, the corrupt medieval papacy, Rome and the art of sculpting.