Michelangelo Timeline

Portrait of Michelangelo (probably based on his death mask) by Daniele da Volterra (1564)  Photo by Giovanni dall’ Orto


1475 MICHELANGELO BUONARROTI is born on March 6 in Caprese, a village near Florence, during his father’s short term as mayor and local magistrate. The family soon returns to Florence. The infant Michelangelo is placed in the care of a foster-mother in a town five miles from Florence. His mother dies when he is six.

1488 He quits school and signs up for an apprenticeship as a painter with Domenico Ghirlandaio.

1489He leaves Ghirlandaio’s workshop and starts to study sculpture in the gardens of Lorenzo de’ Medici. He lives at the ducal palace for three years in the company of the learned Humanists and sculpts his first works (marble reliefs): THE MADONNA OF THE STAIRS and the BATTLE OF THE CENTAURS.

1492Lorenzo de’ Medici dies and Michelangelo goes back to live with his impoverished father but soon returns to the Medici palace, invited by Lorenzo’s son Piero.

1494-1495-1 Florence rebels against the leadership of Piero. Michelangelo flees the city, goes to Bologna. There he sculpts three small statues for the tomb of San Domenico: ST. PETRONIUS, ST.PROCULUS, and an ANGEL.

1496Back in Florence he sculpts a CUPID (now lost) and sells it to the art dealer Baldassare del Milanese, who in turn sells it as an antique work to a Roman Cardinal.

1497Michelangelo moves to Rome. To a banker-client he sells his first important work: the BACCHUS and another Cupid, now lost. He makes his first trip to Carrara for marble.

1498-1499 He sculpts the PIETÀ for the French cardinal Jean de Billheres  (also called Jean Villier de la Grolaie 0r Groslaye) but receives no other important commissions for nearly two years.

1501Cardinal Piccolomini orders 15 statues for the Cathedral of Sienna. Michelangelo finishes four of them, begun by another sculptor, and adds one of his own, the ST. PETER, before abandoning the project.

1502 He returns to Florence, which has become a republic, and receives an order from the local authorities for a bronze David (finished by another artist and sent to France, now lost) and a colossal marble statue of  DAVID . The Cathedral Cabildo gives him an order for marble figures of the Twelve Apostles. Only the ST. MATTHEW is blocked out.

1503 He finishes an easel painting, his only one  that has survived, of the Holy Family (MADONNA DONI).

1504 ….His colossal DAVID is set up in front of the Palazzo della Signoria or City Hall.

1505 ….He obtains a commission to paint a fresco (the BATTLE OF CASCINA) for the Council Room of the city of Florence. Leonardo da Vinci is commissioned to do a fresco on another wall of the Council Chamber.  Michelangelo only finishes the cartoons—he never starts to paint the wall.

He starts but does not finish two round marble reliefs, called tondi: the TONDO TADDEI and the TONDO PITTI.

He finishes a “Madonna with the Christ Child” (BRUGES MADONNA, sent to Bruges in 1506).

He is called to Rome to build a tomb for Pope Julius II.  Then he spends nine months in Carrara, quarrying marble for it. Back in Rome he begins to block out some of the figures for the great tomb.

1506He leaves Rome in anger on learning that the Pope has given up the tomb project, and takes refuge in Florence under the protection of  its governor, Piero Soderini.  In November he goes to Bologna to apologize to the Pope, who pardons him and orders a colossal bronze statue of himself.

1507 . Michelangelo spends more than a year modelling and casting the figure, which is finally set up on the facade of San Petronio in 1508. Less than four years later it is melted down to make a cannon.

1508Pope Julius decides to decorate his uncle’s chapel  (called the Sistine, after Pope Sixtus IV) and orders Michelangelo to fill the ceiling with frescoes.  He protests that he is no painter but the Pope insists and Michelangelo begins to work alone and in great discomfort. He finishes the SISTINE CEILING frescoes in 1512.

1513 Pope Julius dies. Michelangelo signs a new contract for his tomb with his heirs. He works on the MOSES and the so-called “Slaves”: The DYING SLAVE and the REBELLIOUS SLAVE (now in the Louvre, Paris).

1514 He begins work on a RISEN CHRIST for the church of Sta. Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. It is finished by his helper and unveiled only in 1521.

1515.. He goes to Carrara to get marble for the Julius tomb figures.

1516 He signs another contract for the Julius tomb.  The Medici, now ruling again in Florence, ask him to design the facade for their family church of San  Lorenzo. His design calls for 10 statues.

1517—1520 He spends most of the following three years in Carrara and Pietrasanta, quarrying marble for the facade of San Lorenzo and also for the Julius tomb. He signs a contract with the Medici for the facade of San Lorenzo, which now includes 22 statues. This project is suddenly and inexplicably cancelled by Pope Leo, Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici, in 152o.

Perhaps about this time Michelangelo began, either for the Julius Tomb or the San Lorenzo facade, a statue called VICTORY. It was left unfinished in his workshop in Florence. Some scholars date it later, around 1530, like the APOLLO, another unfinished work.

1524 He begins to work in the MEDICI CHAPEL and the BIBLIOTECA LAURENZIANA or Laurentian Library.  He goes back to Carrara for more marble.   Part-time he still devotes to the Julius tomb project.

1527-1528.. Florence anticipates an attack by a papal and imperial army and appoints Michelangelo Chief of Fortifications. He has to suspend his work in the Medici Chapel and devote himself to the defense of the city.

1529Michelangelo flees Florence and is declared a traitor. He returns just before Florence is taken by the imperial forces (1530) and he goes into hiding. The Pope promises him immunity if he continues to work on the Medici Chapel figures. He finishes two of them (NIGHT and DAWN) by 1531.

1532 He moves to Rome.  He signs a new contract with Julius’ heirs for a smaller tomb—only six figures. The heirs accuse Michelangelo of shirking his responsibility and of lying about the money he received from Pope Julius for the tomb and he is never able to convince them of his honesty, which nearly drives him to despair.
He meets Tommaso  de’ Cavalieri and dedicates many poems and drawings to him.

1533 Pope Clement asks him to paint the LAST JUDGMENT on the wall of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo returns to Florence for a short stay, then leaves it for the rest of his life. He lets assistants finish the Medici Chapel and the Laurentian Library.

1534 Pope Clement dies and the new Pope (Paul III) orders Michelangelo to stop working on the Julius tomb and paint the LAST JUDGMENT frescoes above the altar of the Sistine Chapel. He finishes them on October 31, 1541.  His friendship with Vittoria Colonna begins and he dedicates many religious drawings and poems to her.

1543 He starts work on the CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL fresco in the the Pauline Chapel.

1545 The JULIUS TOMB is finally set up in San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome. Most of it is executed by other sculptors according to Michelangelo’s plan. He is unsatisfied with the results. The two female figures, RACHEL and LEAH–also called the Active Life and Contemplative Life–are by Michelangelo but finished and polished by helpers.

He finishes the CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL fresco and begins the CRUCIFIXION OF ST. PETER , which he finishes only in 1550.

1546He begins the FLORENTINE (or Duomo) PIETÀ for his own tomb.

1547 Pope Paul III appoints him official architect of ST. PETER’S BASILICA. With the help of an assistant he completes a model of the dome in 1561.

1555 In a moment of anger and frustration he mutilates his FLORENTINE PIETÀ.

1564 His friend Daniele da Volterra watches him work all day February 12 on the RONDANINI PIETÀ. Two days later he comes down with a fever but goes for a walk in the cold night air, saying he just can’t rest.  The next day he spends sitting next to the fireplace but finally must crawl into bed.  He dies on February 18.  The Pope wants to have him buried in St. Peter’s but Michelangelo’s nephew and heir, Leonardo, takes the body back to Florence, where it is buried in Santa Croce.  More than a hundred artists attend his funeral.

This timeline is primarily about Michelangelo’s works. See Michelangelo’s Biography for more information about his life.

*Note: Scholars do not agree on some of these dates. I have decided to follow the chronology given by E.H. Ramsden, which is based on the dates of Michelangelo’s letters. See her The Letters of Michelangelo, Stanford University Press, 1963

Other sources are Michelangelo’s poems and the two biographies by Giorgio Vasari and Ascanio Condivi.

97 Responses to Michelangelo Timeline

  1. Pingback: Famous Peoples Birthdays » Michelangelo Dates The Best Artists

  2. brains95 says:

    it’s nice work

  3. Anonymous says:

    Good job

  4. justme22 says:

    I don’t find it long, in fact other important events could be added such as his apprenticeship to Ghirlandaio’s shop, the sculpting of the Battle of the centaurs, the Madonna of the stairs and others, the Doni tondo,etc. which although smaller works are all significant and relevant. Thanks for this wonderful site.

  5. charlie says:

    it helped me with my report

  6. Anonymous says:

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  7. Anonymous says:

    thanks for the help

  8. paige says:

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  9. 100swallows says:

    Thanks for telling me, random

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    hi i love this site and i will always use!

  11. jessica says:

    thank you this helped a heap because i found this subject really boring and you helped me understand :)

  12. kiki says:

    thats beauiful art work

  13. Cat says:

    Aren’t some dates inaccurate?

  14. Anonymous says:

    i got an A from this

  15. koko says:

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  16. dodo says:

    great
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  17. Mike says:

    Thanks for the timeline. Very much enjoyed the information & very well put together. Didn’t see the Genius of Victory sculpture listed (dated possibly 1533??) which is currently in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Believe it may have been intended for the Julius II tomb project

    • 100swallows says:

      Thanks, Mike. This timeline started out small but keeps getting bigger and bigger. I didn’t originally intend to include all the works but now so few are missing that I might as well put them in. But I actually forgot your Victory, so thanks. Also missing are the Crouching Boy and Michelangelo’s most important architectural creations (Porta Pía, the Farnese facade, etc,). Some, like the Palestrina Pietà, were ruined by other sculptors and really shouldn’t be included in the canon.

  18. UKISS136 says:

    Thanks. Help me with my extremly complicated assignment!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. anonymous says:

    thnx dude that realy helped with my report

  20. anonymous says:

    wwow i loved it!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. like_art_like says:

    this is rlly helpful and kewl. thnx :)

  22. zeleah says:

    that was so great

  23. ChrystalMcHottness says:

    wooooooooo so tot awsum, r u on facebook mike?

  24. Arianna says:

    YES finaly a good 1 4 mi social studies project THANKS

  25. Anonymous says:

    helped a lot

  26. April says:

    Very inclusive and well rounded. This site is one of the best I have seen on him. It doesn’t go off on a tangent about one aspect or another. It also puts into perspective how busy this man truly was as well as all that he accomplished/ created in his lifetime! Thank you as this also helped me in my research:)

    • 100swallows says:

      April: Thanks. It’s not easy to come up with a timeline that is just right for everyone. At first I made it too short, then too long, too detailed. Later I had the idea to limit it as far as I could to his works and to make another page–a biography–with facts about him, his patrons, and his times. Many people seem to prefer that. I made it sound as unscholarly as I could.

  27. Anonymous says:

    helped heaps

  28. Breanna says:

    Awesome timeline. Thanks for the enritching experience!

  29. superrob123 says:

    It help me with my research a lot.

  30. Anonymous says:

    perffect timeline

  31. Anonymous says:

    just what i needed to finnish my homework

  32. Anonymous says:

    thanx. ur hardwork’s made things easier for me. I’m a researcher. gbu

  33. Chris says:

    Thanks, this was really helpful!

  34. Chris says:

    That was a great and useful program.

  35. That was a great ,useful,factual and helpful website!

  36. Nate says:

    This helps alot! thanks a million!

  37. Anonymous says:

    Christine says
    This helped me a lot. Thank you!

  38. Anonymous says:

    OMG THIS IS A REALLY GOOD SITE IT GIVES ME ALL THE INFO I NEED THANKS KEEP IT UP 6TH GRADER

  39. Artist says:

    Thanks! This will help me with my essay!!!:):):):):)

  40. Meena says:

    What a life…Michelangelo…the best

    This site is really cool by the way !

    • 100swallows says:

      Meena: Thanks. I know many people like that book. It has probably produced more than one sculptor among its young readers and of course much love for Michelangelo. If Stone were a better writer, a greater dramatist, a clever psychologist, maybe I could read him, maybe I would enjoy the constructions of his imagination, just as one enjoys Shakespeare’s Macbeth, say, and doesn’t care what the real king was like. But I can’t recognize enough truth in Stone’s puppet theater presentation of the world. And as for your condition that “as long as people know that it is fiction…”, most cannot know where the facts stop and the fiction begins. Often on this blog I have received comments from people who quote Stone’s character with great authority, never realizing that he is the hero creation of a novelist.

  41. Meena says:

    100Swallows: You’re welcome.

    I understand what you mean when you judge Stone’s writing itself…there are parts that seem affected, exaggerated and even too much. But that doesn’t make his projection on Michelaneglo in itself, bad.

    Moreover, one can always tell where the facts stop and the fiction begins, as you yourself could so easily tell by reading just a little bit of the book. Perhaps that’s because you’ve read everything else out there, there is to read on Michelangelo. Perhaps someone who is just introduced to Michelangelo, would not spot the difference. Well, atleast it helps to introduce someone to Michelangelo…as you wrote “it has probably produced more than one sculptor…” – and from then onward, once introduced, he or she could always climb the Michelangelo ‘ladder of knowledge’ and get to know the facts out there as suggested by Vasari or Condivi.

    I just feel that nothing needs to be condemned that doesn’t call Michelangelo a swank, a terrible artist or an imitator. I’ve never found Stone’s book to work against the artist. And isn’t that what it’s all about? This website…the books…our interactions…and what gives people like those on this website a common denominator…Michelangelo, the artist himself.

    Anyways, it is what it is. We all see things differently.

    Nonetheless, thanks for your work on this website. It truly is an informative website among the many others out there.

    Cheers,

  42. ReshimiTheKitty says:

    Thanks this helped me a lot with my art projects time line. 😎

  43. AW Strouf says:

    Awesome. Thank you.

  44. Anonymous says:

    I don’t believe Michelangelo was real.

  45. Caden says:

    thx i really needed this for my late report btw i posted this 11:50pm

  46. kayla says:

    it helped me with a presation

  47. eden says:

    That was really helpful for a persentation

  48. Anonymous says:

    thanks

  49. lucia says:

    thanks for help really useful for history fair 2016

  50. Anonymous says:

    i had a project and read from this thanks

  51. Abel says:

    This really helped me out thank you for your timeline.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Helped with project thanks :))))

  53. Anonymous says:

    realy helpful

  54. Anonymous says:

    Who created this site? They did a great job

  55. Al says:

    Have you considered putting in Michelangelo’s age beside each of the dates.
    Then I can consider what I was doing at that age!

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