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In 1504, Michelangelo completed his massive statue known as the David. This work, which is located in Florence, stands more than fourteen feet high. It is a powerful work, and it was responsible for establishing Michelangelo's fame as an artist. The David shows Michelangelo's knowledge of anatomy, as well as his skill in handling such artistic attributes as balance and proportion. In addition, the marble sculpture conveys an image of the human body which is almost superhuman. In this way, the David encompasses the idea of divinity within the human being. This idea was representative of the values which were developing during the Renaissance period. After centuries of Church domination in human affairs, the Renaissance marked a return to the humanistic values of the ancient world. A study of Michelangelo's life and career reveals that the artist's personality was centered around these Renaissance values. The David, in turn, is one of the finest expressions of this personality. In order to understand Michelangelo's personality, it will be helpful to trace his early life and influences.

Michelangelo Buonarroti was born in the Italian town of Caprese in 1475. His father was a government employee; however, he was raised by a nursemaid who was the wife of a stone mason. Growing up in the family of a stone mason gave Michelangelo an early love for the art of sculpture. As he commented later in his life: "With my wet-nurse's milk, I sucked in the hammer and chisels I use for my statues" (Cole and Gealt, 1989, p. 143). When he was still a child, Michelangelo's family moved to Florence. There, when he was thirteen years old, Michelangelo became an apprentice under the artist Domenico Ghirlandaio. This experience gave Michelangelo his first opportunity to work in painting and other forms of art. Nevertheless, he continued to love sculpture above all. In addition, Michelangelo began showing an interest in a style of art which...

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