March 31, 2019
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known by his first name Michelangelo, (1475-1564) was an Italian sculptor, painter, poet and architect. Among his most famous works were the statues Pietà and David, the frescoes Genesis and The Last Judgment and the designs of the Laurentian Library and St. Peter’s Basilica. As well, he composed over three hundred sonnets, elegies and madrigals. Michelangelo was called Il Divino (“the divine one”) by his contemporaries. He is considered by many as the greatest artist who ever lived.
Michelangelo often focused on beautiful men in his art. He portrayed them nude both in his paintings and statues, and he frequently made presentation drawings to give to them. He also hired young men as his models. (Some of whom became his lovers but then blackmailed him or stole from him). But it was in his poetry and letters that he most explicitly displayed his passions. He wrote especially about and to Tommaso dei Cavalieri and Cecchino dei Bracci.
I am a resolute heterosexual but I first got some inkling of what a gay man feels when I saw David. It is a gorgeous, voluptuous figure. What a gift for Michelangelo to have communicated to the world the love he felt for men.
Below is an excerpt of an elegy to dei Bracci and to the right is David.
the flesh and bones are here in the earth/without those beautiful eyes and pretty face/remind me about what was graceful in bed/that embraced, that lives in the soul.
(Translated by S. Grey)