Michelangelo at the court of Pope Julius II

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The course is primarily intended for PhD students, although it may be useful as an in-depth study for particularly interested undergraduate students.


Following up on the course on the early stages of Michelangelo’s career, this lecture series will focus, for the benefit of PhD students in particular, on Michelangelo’s major undertakings during the time of Julius II’s papacy (1503-1513), namely the pontiff’s mausoleum and the Sistine Chapel vault. Again, the presentation will take place according to a tight interweaving of primary and secondary sources of historical research and narrative (artworks and archival papers), and of art history and historiography (from the 16th century to the present), also matching Michelangelo with his masters, his colleagues, his patrons, and his intellectual and humanistic acquaintances.

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As the two other courses held by the same teacher, this educational cycle also intends first and foremost to provide advanced critical tools to deal with the ‘mute’ language of works of art of the past, and in particular of sculpture, both by practising directly on the figurative corpus and by examining the different methods of reading and interpretation utilised in modern studies. In addition, the exercise of direct exploration of the sources ­– meaning both the ancient literary and archival evidence – aims to channel the learning experience in a context of social history of art, involving patrons, artists, and the first ‘specialist’ writers.

Riferimenti bibliografici

Il carteggio di Michelangelo. Edizione postuma di Giovanni Poggi, edited by Paola Barocchi and Renzo Ristori, 5 vols., Florence, Sansoni Editore, 1965-1983, vol. I [1496-1518], 1965;

Giorgio Vasari, La Vita di Michelangelo nelle redazioni del 1550 e del 1568, curata e commentata da Paola Barocchi, 5 vols., Milan-Naples, Riccardo Ricciardi - Editore, MCMLXII;

Erwin Panofsky, Die Gestaltungsprincipien Michelangelos, besonders in ihrem Verhältnis zu denen Raffaels [1920], aus dem Nachlass herausgegeben von Gerda Panofsky, Berlin, De Gruyter,  2014 (English edition: Erwin Panofsky, Michelangelo’s Design Principles, Particularly in Relation to Those of Raphael [1920], Princeton - Oxford, Princeton University Press, 2020);

Charles de Tolnay, The Sistine Ceiling, Princeton University Press, Princeton MCMXLV, 2nd edition MCMXLVIII;

Charles de Tolnay, The Tomb of Julius II, Princeton University Press, Princeton MCMLIV;

Michael Hirst, Michelangelo. I. The Achievement of Fame: 1475-1534, Yale University Press, New Haven - London 2011.

Other in-depth texts, mostly articles, will be indicated during the course.