Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael are considered some of the most influential artists to have ever lived. They were all Italian artists who flourished during the Renaissance.
Records show that Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael would have known each other. But not all their relationships were easy; some of their relationships were filled with jealousy and rivalry.
Raphael, Michelangelo, And Leonardo da Vinci’s Relationship
Raphael, Michelangelo, And Leonardo da Vinci all knew each other. Leonardo was the oldest among them, born in 1452 and died at 67 in 1519.
Michelangelo and Raphael were much closer in age than they were to Leonardo da Vinci. Michelangelo was born in 1475 and died at the age of 88 in 1564.
Raphael was the youngest of the three and was born in 1483 but died relatively young at age 37 in 1520. Raphael died just short of a year after Leonardo da Vinci did.
When both Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci died, it ensured that Michelangelo had no significant competition for Renaissance art for a long time – at least for the next 40 years.
Michelangelo And Leonardo’s Rivalry
We know that Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci knew each other, but they did not like each other; they worked on a project together and disliked each other so much that neither finished the commission and even left town to avoid working together.
Leonardo was over 20 years older than Michaelangelo. A story of the meeting they had shows how much hatred was between them and how much they disliked each other.
Leonardo and his friend Giovanni de Gavina passed the Spini banking house in Florence. Seated near the bank was a group of intellectuals discussing a passage in Dante.
As Leonardo and Giovanni talked to this group of intellectuals, they asked Leonardo his opinion on what they discussed. Just at that moment, Michelangelo also happened to pass by.
Upon seeing Michelangelo, Leonardo is said to have remarked, “Michelangelo will be able to tell you what it means.” Leonardo seems to have been referring to the fact he thought that Michelangelo was a kind of “know it.”
Leonardo’s Horse And Michelangelo’s Insult
Michelangelo understood the hostility in Leonardo’s voice and then spoke back and said to Leonardo and the group, “explain it yourself, your horse-modeler, who cannot cast a statue in bronze, so you were forced to give up your attempt.”
Michelangelo ensured Leonardo would “lose face” in front of everyone; he referred to a failed commission that Leonardo had in 1482 that was never finished. It was an absolute insult to Leonardo.
Leonardo’s horse sculpture commission was given in 1482 by the Duke of Milan Ludovico II Moro. It was the most giant equestrian statue in the world at the time. The commission was to be a monument to the Duke’s father. Ludovico had collected several tons of bronze to be used to make the statue.
Leonardo drew the statue, studied horses, and wrote a treatise on horse anatomy. By 1493, he had cast a full-size clay model of the horse statue displayed at a prominent wedding, The beauty of the clay statue added to his fame.
Leonardo also sketched out how to assemble this enormous statue that was to be 8 meters or 26 feet high. In December 1493, he wrote how he was now ready to cast the bronze for the statue.
As he was ready to cast the bronze statue, Leonardo found out that Ludovico had given all the bronze he had collected for the statues to his father. Ludovico’s father had decided to use the bronze to make cannons to defend Milan against an invasion of Charles VII, the King of France.
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To add to the insult, the clay model of the horse was used as target practice by the French soldiers when they invaded Milan in 1499. Later, the clay model was destroyed entirely by rain and other elements.
Leonardo was, of course, distraught by Michelangelo’s insult. The horse statue commission was not completed because there was no bronze to cast for the statue. Leonardo could cast the horse statue, but he had no bronze or materials to produce it.
The insult would have hurt much more because Michelangelo must have known why he did not complete the statue, and he would have also learned the clay statue was used as target practice by the invading French army.
Michelangelo And Raphael’s Rivalry
Michelangelo also did not like Raphael. Michelangelo seems to have been an artist who disliked any artist that he felt could compete with him, so this meant both Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael were seen as rivals.
Raphael was eight years younger than Michelangelo, so he probably looked up to him and his artwork. We know that Raphael admired Michelangelo and his art.
When Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Raphael, who was also in favor of the Pope, arranged a private viewing of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Michelangelo was said to be very bitter about this. Michelangelo tried to discredit Raphael and accused him of plagiarism.
Leonardo’s Influence On Raphael
Even though Michelangelo seemed to have a tense relationship with both Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, it appears that Raphael and Leonardo had a perfect relationship. Leonardo greatly influenced Raphael and his art.
In the iconic book by Giorgio Vasari, published in 1550, called The Lives of The Most Excellent Painters and Sculptors and Architects, he writes about how Leonardo’s work influenced Raphael’s work.
Raphael went to Florence in the early 16th Century to study and observe some great artists and their work. We can assume that Raphael met Leonardo. They probably were not friends as there was quite a significant age difference between them.
Giorgio wrote this about Leonardo’s influence on Raphael and his future work:
We see this in many of Raphael’s works, especially the one title portrait of ‘Lady with a Unicorn’, (1505) and Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. We can see some similarities between these and how the women are posing and sitting.
In these, we can see some of Leonardo’s influences on Raphael and his work. And the fact that Raphael was in so many ways like Leonardo and his art ensured him the spot to forever be considered one of the Renaissance great artists.
The sad part of Raphael’s story is that he died so young, so much younger than either Michelangelo or Leonardo. The truth is due to his untimely death, Raphael was never able to reach his full potential as an artist.
Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Raphael all knew each other, but it did not mean they liked or even tolerated each other. When it came to their relationship with Michelangelo and these artists, it was rife with jealousy, rivalry, and contention.
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Did Michelangelo And Leonardo Know Each Other?
Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci knew each other but were considered bitter rivals. Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo knew each other, but they did like each other. They were both asked to do a commission on the Council Hall of the Palazzo Vecchio and were supposed to work side-by-side; the project was never completed.
What Was The Focus Of Renaissance Art?
The focus of Renaissance art was on the classics of Greek and Rome, humanist philosophy, and the study of the human figure. Realism was also an essential part of renaissance art. The great artists of the Renaissance also became great anatomists and studied human beings.
Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel And His Payment
Michelangelo was paid 3200 gold ducats for his work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which would have been a very lucrative commission. We know that he stopped work on the ceiling for a while due to his not being paid by the Vatican. Michelangelo liked to give the impression that he was a very poor artist, but records have shown that he died an extremely wealthy man.