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The Renaissance – Two Michelangelos

by Zach Gasior

Michelangelo diLodovico Buonarroti Simoni was born in Caprese on March 6, 1475.  His father was working as a judicial administrator in the town until then, after which the family moved to Florence.  In 1481, Michelangelo lost his mother to illness, and started living with a stonecutter and his family.  Growing up, Michelangelo had access to a good education, but had no love for academics, preferring instead to practice painting.


Living in Florence in 1488, Michelangelo had access to the heart of the Renaissance, and all the wonderful art that came with it.  He was an apprentice to Ghirlandaio at that time, and his father convinced the fresco painter to pay Michelangelo as an artist.  This was rare in itself, as apprentices were expected to learn for free.  However, his talent was obvious, and in 1489 Ghirlandaio sent his pupil to the Humanist academy to study.  It was there that Michelangelo sculpted “Madonna of the Steps” and “Battle of the Centaurs”.

In 1492, Michelangelo left school due to circumstances beyond his control, and for the next seven years he moved between Bologna, Florence, and Rome working on commissions.  It wasn’t until 1499 that he finally returned to Florence for an extended period of time, where his art was allowed to flourish again.  During this time, Michelangelo sculpted “David”, and was commissioned to work on several other paintings.  In 1505, however, came the beginning of Michelangelo’s greatest work.  Pope Julius II invited the man back to Rometo build the pope’s tomb, and painted the Sistine Chapel.

Michelangelo’s work continued for nearly 60 more years, and included many commissions for now-famous pieces of art.  In 1546, he received his final commission as builder of St. Peter’s Basilica.  He designed and oversaw the construction of the piece, but as age crept up on him, there was worry that he would not see it to completion.  Ultimately, Michelangelo died in 1564 at the age of 88, and was taken to Florence for internment.  The painter and sculptor lived a long life, and became one of the most well-known and respected artists of all time.


The artist Michelangelo was one of the greatest minds of his time, and still revered as one of the greatest artists in history.  The ninja turtle Michelangelo, however, is neither of those things.  There are some similarities, though.  Of the four Renaissance artists used for the turtles, Michelangelo showed the most potential from a very early age.  It was clear that he had skills that went well beyond his years, and he would flourish in time.  His ninja turtle counterpart shows similar qualities.  Mikey, while the youngest and most inexperienced, has plenty of potential.  He can fight with the best warriors, he can be innovative and clever when he wants, and he shows great promise for things yet to come.


The similarities stop there, though.  Michelangelo the painter never showed the kind of immaturity and goofiness that the turtle does.  He didn’t have a carefree attitude, and he didn’t allow the world to roll off his back.  Reality was to the contrary.  When he went to Rome to work on the Sistine Chapel and the pope’s tomb, Michelangelo found himself at odds with Raphael and Leonardo, believing he was the better artist and deserving of some of their commissions.  In this way, he was very selfish and self-centered and easily angered.  He sounds more like the turtle Raphael than Michelangelo.


While the ninja turtles were named for Renaissance artists, it does not seem that there was much rhyme or reason to those choices.  The boys have very little in common with their artist counterparts, and many seem to be misnamed.  But, Splinter chose as he did to give the boys strong monikers to live up to, and they have succeeded.  So ends the series on the Renaissance in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle universe.  Be sure to check out all five.

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