Michelangelo was a master artist during the Renaissance era. Many people also see him as one of the great artistic masters who did not receive all that was due to him for the payment for his work.
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 penniless artist, but records show that he died an extremely wealthy man.
Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Payment
Michelangelo was paid about 3200 gold ducats to work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which would have worked out to about 750 ducats per year. For this time, this was quite a large sum of money.
Michelangelo was given about 400 ducats for his work on the David statue and 450 ducats on the Pieta statue. By the time he was commissioned to paint the Sistine chapel, he was a well-known artist, and his artistic rate had increased significantly.
Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Payment Dispute
The commission for the Sistine Chapel ceiling was a vast and very lucrative commission for Michelangelo. No one can doubt that it was challenging work.
From about September 1510 until about mid-1511 or longer, Michelangelo refused to do any work on the Sistine Chapel ceiling painting. He was disputing the payment for the work he had completed so far.
In August 1510, the Pope left Rome to go to the Papal States and conquer Bologna, and it was not in Rome. Michelangelo was not being paid regularly for his work in the Sistine Chapel.
We know that Michelangelo had stopped working on the ceiling by September of that same year to protest his not getting paid regularly for his work. Michelangelo was distraught by this, so he went twice to see the Pope during his travels to try to settle this payment matter.
But it was not until the Pope returned to Rome that Michelangelo was paid for his work, and then Michelangelo began again to complete the work of the Sistine Chapel. The fact that Michelangelo would stop the work for payment with the Pope as the art patron shows us a lot about the personality of this elusive man.
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Michelangelo And His Extreme Wealth
Michelangelo passed himself off as a poverty-stricken artist, but the truth is that when he died, he was an extremely wealthy man. During his lifetime Michelangelo complained that he was living in poverty, but the truth is far from that, and records show he was not only extremely wealthy but also a miser.
Rab Hatfield, a professor at the Florence branch of Syracuse University, said this about Michelangelo and his wealth when speaking to the Los Angeles Times:
Hatfield has been able to find some of Michelangelo’s old bank accounts and deeds of purchase that show a very different kind of story. When he died in 1564, it is estimated that his net worth was at least 50,000 gold ducats which would have been more than money than many princes and dukes had at that time.
This amount of money would have made Michelangelo an extremely wealthy man. When Michelangelo died, there were 8,400 ducats found in a wooden box next to his bed.
To put that money in perspective, the Pitti Palace, which is now a giant art gallery in central Florence, was sold to a Duchess for 9,000 gold ducats. We can say that Michelangelo had money in a box near his bed that would have allowed him to purchase a palace in Florence.
A lot of Michelangelo’s money was in real estate. He had a farm near Rome that produced a nice income for him and some houses in Rome and Florence, but he still died with a large sum of cash in a box near his bed.
Michelangelo liked to pass himself off to the Popes and art patrons that he was a starving artist and did not have a lot of money. He seems to have played the role of poverty exceedingly well, with many art patrons believing him and paying him well even for work he never completed.
In speaking of Michelangelo and his fantastic wealth, Rab Hatfield said this to the Los Angeles Times:
An example is that Pope Julius II gave Michelangelo a huge advanced payment for the 40 life-size statues he wanted for his tomb. Michelangelo had other commissions that kept him busy, but he gladly took the money and never delivered all 40 statues.
Infact, Michelangelo only completed three of the statues. One of the statues of a seated Moses is considered one of his masterpieces.
There is no doubt that Michelangelo was an extremely gifted artist, one of the most proficient in the High Renaissance era. He has many works of art that are still considered masterpieces today.
On a personal level, he seems to have been quite the character. Infact so many people saw Michelangelo as cash strapped and a starving artist who was just not true; he died an extremely wealthy man.
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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.
By clicking here, you can learn more by reading Did Michelangelo And Leonardo Know Each Other?.
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.
By clicking here, you can learn more by reading What Was The Focus Of Renaissance Art?.
Michelangelo’s Method To Paint The Sistine Chapel Ceiling
He built a large scaffolding structure that could move around the chapel to paint the ceiling; the painting of the Sistine Chapel was an extremely strenuous work that was a huge personal cost both physically and mentally to Michelangelo.
By clicking here, you can learn more by reading Michelangelo’s Method To Paint The Sistine Chapel Ceiling.