He was born in Caprese near Arezzo, Tuscany, on 6th March 1475. His full name was Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. His family moved to Florence when he was a few months old but following the prolonged illness and death of his mother, he was raised by a Stonecutter and his wife in the nearby town of Settignano. It was here that Michelangelo learnt his skills. He later claimed "Along with the milk of my nurse I received the knack of handling chisel and hammer, with which I make my figures."
Fellow artist and biographer, Giorgio Vasari claimed Michelangelo was: "... the pinnacle of all artistic achievement since the beginning of the Renaissance." There are not many who would disagree.
Portrait of Michelangelo by Volterra
He returned in 1499 when the Guild of Wool asked him to finish a commission that had been started 40 years earlier by another sculptor, Agostino di Duccio. The giant statue was to be carved from Carrara marble and would depict David as a symbol of Florentine freedom.
Michelangelo completed what was to become his most famous work in 1504. Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli were among a group of 'consultants' charged with deciding where the statue should be placed. Their decision was to place it in front of the 'Palazzo Vecchio', in the 'Piazza della Signoria'. Later, it was replaced by a replica and the original moved to the 'Academia' museum.
David - Photo: Rico Heil
The creation of Adam, Sistine Chapel
In 1503, Bramante had won a competition run by the Pope to choose the architect for the rebuilding of St Peter's Basilica, the largest and most prestigious architectural project in Europe during the 16th century. Pope Julius died in 1515, and Bramante was replaced. Over the next 44 years a series of different architects were employed as each was replaced or died. In 1547, at the age of 74, Michelangelo took over the project. Rather than continue with many of the previous ideas, Michelangelo applied his own unique genius to create a new vision for the project. Although he never finished it, others continued with his designs and in 1626 they completed what has been called "The greatest building of its age" and "The greatest of all churches of Christendom".
St. Peter's Basilica - Photo: Myrabella
The tomb of Michelangelo, Florence - Photo: W Knight