Book Review: Michelangelo, the Young Artist Who Dreamed of Perfection

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Ages 9-12

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Michelangelo was at the same time someone who lived in Leonardo's shadow and rose above him. The life of Michelangelo, especially his younger years and how they shaped his later experiences, is the focus of this book, the latest in a National Geographic series that focuses on famous historical figures.

The most impressive element of this book, as it is with Michelangelo himself, is the artwork. The artwork done by Michelangelo himself is some of the best ever done in the world, but the book also contains works done by other masters. One of the most helpful of these is not an artwork at all but a recently done map, which shows the location of the various larger cities on the Italian peninsula during the Renaissance. Students of this period routinely think of only Milan and Rome as the hubs of Renaissance creativity; that is not at all true, and the map drives this point home by listing no less than 20 major cities that house cathedrals, sculptures, paintings, and much more output of the creative burst that was the Renaissance.

Like other famous artists, Michelangelo began as an apprentice. Like Leonardo, he soon eclipsed his master's talents and struck out on his own. His apprenticeship was to a sculptor, and much of the book is devoted to his sculptures. Michelangelo is probably best known for painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but he also created some of the world's best-known sculptures, including David and the Pieta. Also included are his talents as an architect and (unknown to many) as a poet.

The book closes with an impressive look at Michelangelo's legacy, a welcome coda to a well-told and -illustrated story of one of the world's most well-known and -loved artists. And don't miss the timeline and glossary, by-now familiar elements of these historical biographies that fill in the context of the main story with events that take place elsewhere in the world at the time.

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