Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) remains arguably the most powerful artist in the Western canon, and a touchstone for all artistic endeavour. Painter, sculptor, architect, poet, he redefined not only the possibilities of the imagination, but also of the image of the artist. He was the first artist to be the subject of a biography in his lifetime, with the publication of his life in Giorgio Vasari's "Lives of the most excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects in 1550", where Michelangelo is presented as the divinely inspired culmination of the history of art. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Michelangelo was dissatisfied with Vasari's treatment, and encouraged his close friend and fellow-painter Ascanio Condivi to publish a rival biography. Condivi's "Life" is an impassioned and intimate portrait of Michelangelo, which gives an unparalleled picture of the master's life, work and personality. This compelling narrative of genius and its struggles in the treacherous world of Papal politics and Italian wars remains one of the most fascinating and influential texts in art history.
This edition reproduces the long unavailable translation by Charles Holroyd, and has 49 pages of illustrations covering the span of Michelangelo's achievement, including many of the drawings currently on show at the British Museum.
Ascanio Condivi (c. 1525-1574), from the Marchigian town of Ripatransone, was a moderately talented painter, sculptor and architect, remembered today chiefly for this biography of his friend Michelangelo. This edition of Condivi's Life is introduced by Charles Robertson, who teaches in the History of Art Department of Oxford Brookes University and has published a number of studies on Italian Renaissance art and architecture. Judgement Call, his book on Michelangelo's Last Judgement, will be published by Pallas Athene in 2006.