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The Italian Michelangelo Buonarotti almost certainly the most famous artist produced by Western civilization and arguably the greatest is universally viewed as the supreme Renaissance artist see Renaissance art and architecture He created monumental works of painting sculpture and architecture and left an additional legacy of numerous letters and poems Through this vast and multifaceted body of artistic achievement Michelangelo made an indelible imprint on the Western imagination A member of an old and distinguished Florentine family Michelangelo was born near Arezzo Italy on Mar 6 1475 and he died on Feb 18 1564 in Rome--a record of longevity that was as unusual as his precocity as an artist Like his compatriot Donatello Michelangelo to the end of his life saw himself primarily as a sculptor once avowing that he drank in with his wet-nurses milk the love of the stonecutters tools Always a Florentine patriot even after he had expanded his art into a universal language he exemplified the character of his native city a passionate proud and independent man he saw art as a sacred calling through which the dignity of human beings should be enhanced and celebrated His lifelong fascination with the sublime form of the human body arose from this thoroughly Florentine sensitivity to the inherent worth and nobility of individuals The Early Florentine Years Michelangelos Florentine education hinged on three salient attitudes that dramatically shaped his own outlook From the age of 13 he received a firm grounding in the traditional techniques and practices of painting and sculpture under the tutelage of the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio and the sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni c1420-91 While still in his adolescence he was given equally extensive exposure to the art and thought of the ancient world as a privileged protege of Lorenzo deMedici in whose palace he encountered a celebrated collection of classical works of art and conversed with the leading humanist poets and philosophers of the day notably Marsilio Ficino
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