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Michelangelo Buonarroti, one of the greatest artists of all time, was not exactly a noble and humble man. Irritable, arrogant, and impatient, his perfectionism and expectations drove away many potential friends, and even provoked one would-be friend to hit him in the nose, crushing it "like a biscuit." However, what's truly important for us today is that this man ultimately became an artistic genius, mastering the three arts of the Renaissance: sculpture, painting, and architecture. From his early years, when he created the Pieta (at age 25), to his 40 years of tormented work on a monumental tomb for Pope Julius II, to his greatest masterpiece, the paintings in the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo astounded people with his almost otherworldly talent.
Diane Stanley's well-researched, vivid narrative captures the life of the creator of some of the world's most beautiful, heart-wrenching works of art. Her illustrations are fantastically elaborate and include details of many of Michelangelo's sculptures and paintings. Michelangelo is a perfect introduction to art and art history, with plenty of compelling background information about the Renaissance and life in 15th and 16th century Italy. Stanley has written many other award-winning picture-book biographies, including Leonardo da Vinci and Cleopatra. (Ages 9 to 12) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
There is no one like Stanley (Leonardo da Vinci; Joan of Arc) for picture-book biographyAshe brings to the genre an uncanny ability to clarify and compress dense and tricky historical matter, scrupulous attention to visual and verbal nuances, and a self-fulfilling faith in her readers' intelligence. Returning to the Italian Renaissance, she looks at Michelangelo: "In an age of great artists, he was perhaps the greatest," she posits, pointing to his masterpieces in the three major artsAsculpture, painting and architecture. Her panoramic telling of his life story, fascinating in and of itself, also illuminates papal politics, the machinations of the Medicis, the technical difficulties of painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling (an assignment so unpleasant that Michelangelo thought his rival Bramante had put the pope up to it), the heady climate of Florence and other complex topics. The illustrations again manifest Stanley's prodigious talents. Her detailed rendering of the pre-Michelangelo Sistine Chapel, for example, is dramatic, expressive and historically accurate. Unfortunately, the digital techniques she used to good effect in LeonardoAcollaging in photos of her subject's workAare not successful here. She skillfully integrates reproductions of Michelangelo's own paintings and other two-dimensional art, but when she shows him toiling on the Piet? or with other sculptures, the difference in the depths of field is jarring: one portion of her composition is flat, another seems three-dimensional. The dislocating effect blemishes an otherwise outstanding work. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7-As Michelangelo breathed life into stone, Stanley chisels three-dimensionality out of documents. Her bibliography lists original material as well as respected scholarship; from these sources she has crafted a picture-book biography that is as readable as it is useful. She approaches her subject chronologically, from the artist's early childhood with a wet nurse in a household of stonecutters through his long history of papal commissions to his deathbed musings. In addition to the direct (although uncited) quotes and delineation of his life's journey and major works, she provides an unobtrusive explanation of the style, technique, and meaning of Michelangelo's sculptures, architecture, and paintings. She includes an iconography of the Sistine Chapel, shown in all its restored glory. An author's note and map provide historical context, the former explaining the impact of the classical excavations on the Renaissance sensibilities. Integrating Michelangelo's art with Stanley's watercolor, gouache, and colored-pencil figures and settings has the desired effect: readers will be dazzled with the master's ability, while at the same time pulled into his daily life and struggles. Stanley has manipulated his art on the computer, particularly the sculpture, to tone down the marble's gloss and definition. As a result, the images are more convincing as "works in progress." Her careful use of scale and color contribute to the success of the scenes. For further information, readers may sample Gabriella Di Cagno's Michelangelo (1996) or Vittorio Giudici's The Sistine Chapel (2000, both Peter Bedrick). For fascinating facts with an attitude, try Veronique Milande's Michelangelo and His Times (Holt, 1996).
Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Stanley continues her series of outstanding biographies, but this time she puts a new twist on some venerable art by using computer images. One of the most pleasing things about Stanley's books is the way her sturdy texts stand up to her strong artwork. That's particularly evident here, as she tells the story of Michelangelo's turbulent life in a style that is so readable, and occasionally so colloquial, that even children not readily interested in the subject will be drawn in. Readers will be intrigued to learn, for instance, that Michelangelo's art was not shaped by his own creative desires but by the popes and patrons who demanded the tombs, sculptures, and decorations that Michelangelo created. Since Michelangelo's life is so tied to the story of the Italian Renaissance, the book is also a historical survey of that period, capturing the moments of internecine warfare between everyone from the Medicis to Fra Savonarola and the Pope. Most of the artwork consists of Stanley's portraits and scenes. Especially impressive is one of a rock quarry--huge pieces of marble amidst an ocean of stone. But when it comes to Michelangelo's sculptures and paintings, Stanley does an interesting thing. Rather than trying to re-create them herself, she inserts actual images that were computer manipulated, using Adobe Photoshop. A few of the images are not as crisp as one might like, but seeing Michelangelo chiseling the statue of David makes for a surprising, effective bit of art. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
-- The Horn Book
"...Stanley has indeed captured in both words and pictures the essence of Michelangelo, man of the Renaissance--sculptor, painter, architect..."
-- Bulletin of the Center for Children' s Books
"...Images of Michelangelo's art are photo-based and computer manipulated, and they're seamlessly integrated into the compositions...an in-depth picture of Michelangelo..."
-- Booklist, starred review
"...One of the most pleasing things...is the way her sturdy texts stand up well to her strong artwork..."
When he was born, Michelangelo Buonarroti was put into the care of a stonecutter's family. He often said it was from them that he got his love of sculpture. It certainly didn't come from his own father, a respectable magistrate who beat his son when he asked to become an artists apprentice.
But Michelangelo persevered. His early sculptures caught the attention of Florence's great ruler, Lorenzo de' Medici, who invited the boy to be educated with his own sons. Soon after, Michelangelo was astonishing people with the lifelike creations he wrested from marble--from the heartbreaking Pieta he sculpted when he was only twenty-five to the majestic David that brought him acclaim as the greatest sculptor in Italy.
Michelangelo had a turbulent, quarrelsome life. He was obsessed with perfection and felt that everyone--from family members to his demanding patrons--took advantage and let him down. His long and difficult association with Pope Julius II yielded his greatest masterpiece, the radiant paintings in the Sistine Chapel, and his most disastrous undertaking, the monumental tomb that caused the artist frustration and heartache for forty years.
With her thoroughly researched, lively narrative and superbly detailed illustrations, Diane Stanley has captured the life of an artist who towered above the late Renaissance--and whose brilliance in architecture, painting, and sculpture amazes and moves us to this day.
Children's Books 2000-NY Public Lib., Books for Youth Editor's Choice 2000 (Booklist), Lasting Connections 2000 (Book Links), Best Books 2000 (School Library Journal), Top 10 Youth Art Books 2000 (Booklist), and Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies 2001, National Council for SS & Child. Book Council
About the Author
Diane Stanley is the recipient of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children and the Washington Post-Children's Book Guild Nonfiction Award for the body of her work. She is well known as the author and illustrator of an award-winning series of picture book biographies, most recently Saladin: Noble Prince of Islam. She has written three well-received novels, Bella at Midnight, The Mysterious Matter of I. M. Fine, and A Time Apart. Ms. Stanley has also written and illustrated numerous picture books, including three creatively reimagined fairy tales: The Giant and the Beanstalk, Goldie and the Three Bears, and Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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