Why Michelangelo Disliked Leonardo da Vinci | The Best Artists
The Forgotten Rivalry: Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci Stephanie Storey imagines the history behind their tumultuous relationship. At the beginning of the 16th century, in this same room, side by side on the same wall, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti were. Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci were the nucleus of fifteenth- century Florentine art. Also worth citing is the painter and historian Giorgio Vasari .
With competition came paranoia, hatred. Michelangelo had little time for Leonardo - according to Vasari, he made his dislike so clear that Leonardo left for France to avoid him.
For his part, Leonardo made bitchy remarks in his notebooks on the "wooden" qualities of Michelangelo's painting. So you can't help thinking that Piero Soderini, elected in as lifetime gonfalonier of justice of the Republic - a little like the Venetian doge - had mischief in his mind when he set Leonardo and Michelangelo to work on the same wall. And, yet, what happened in the Palazzo Vecchio turned out to be more mysterious and more private to both these artists than anyone expected.
There was far more at stake than artistic rivalry. The council hall was the centre of a new, more populist idea of the Florentine Republic, which, after the expulsion of the Medici inwas restored with a far greater commitment than ever before to speaking for the entire city. The rebirth of the Florentine Republic was a moment of intense self-rediscovery for Florence; after a century in which the city had become more like a conventional princedom, it was reasserting republican government.
Brilliant minds gave their all to the struggle to recreate the Republic - one of Piero Soderini's close allies was Machiavelli. Historians used to believe, that Machiavelli was instrumental in commissioning Leonardo to decorate the Council Hall. What is certain is that Leonardo and Michelangelo both had new hope for their city.
They had been working far from Florence, in Milan, in Rome. Michelangelo created the Republic's most seductive work of political art, a powerful symbol of manly, energetic, watchful, clear-eyed heroism: David, hero of the weak against the strong, of Florence against tyrannical powers. The city of Florence had every reason to expect that Leonardo and Michelangelo, as aware as everyone else of the vulnerability and preciousness of the city's freedom, would create patriotic masterpieces, and that rivalry would spur them on.
It spurred them all right - but in odd, hermetic,and pessimistic directions. The images of war they created were not bright and celebratory pageants of chivalry, but enigmatic, disturbing. Preliminary drawings survive of men and horses by Leonardo; there is a copy, attributed to Rubens, taken from an earlier copy, of the central scene of his painting, known as The Battle of the Standard.
Even from these fragments, we can see why contemporaries regarded the Battles of Anghiari and Cascina as the key works of their time - and why they have haunted the representation of war ever since. Leonardo and Michelangelo, for all their different ages, different styles - Leonardo soft, shadowy, ambiguous; Michelangelo sublimely decisive - and their enmity, had one thing in common.
Neither liked to finish anything. By the time Leonardo was commissioned to paint the Council Hall, everyone knew this about him; what no one knew was that Michelangelo - who had been prodigious - was to become dilatory and difficult. In fact, Michelangelo's abortive work on The Battle of Cascina marks the beginning of the pattern of non-completion that was to mark his life. You might even speculate that he learned this from Leonardo. Leonardo, on this occasion, got a lot further than Michelangelo.
He took a long time to finish his cartoon and we know, from sketches of men and horses that survive, how passionately he engaged with it; the horses as tense and confrontational as the men, the men as bestial as the animals - warriors have their mouths snarlingly open, as if they want to bite flesh. Others are divided in their nature, with beautiful lifelike limbs and anguished faces bursting from pillars of stone, raw as it came out of the mountain.
But there are no marks on the perfect youth. No chisel wounds blemish the masterpiece that made Michelangelo's name. Luna was the Roman name for the quarry of Carrara, whose marble is as white as the moon's shining disc.
The block Michelangelo stood in front of in had come from the quarry years before, had been "badly begun" by a semi-competent sculptor in the busy workshops of the cathedral, and then left there unwanted for 40 years.
The tools with which the year-old proposed to hew this massive lump of stone into a human shape were hammers and chisels, rasps and files and scrapers, and a wooden bow like an archer's whose string you could pull back and forth to rotate a drill.
Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci
With this simple technology, he had to excavate slowly into the 13ft-long marble slab, negotiating the clumsy damage done by its previous assailants, hoping his labour would not be wasted and that he would find the perfect limbs, the breathing sternum, the keen gaze within. The work was dusty, sweaty, back-breaking and secret, done behind partitions in the cathedral workshop so no one could spy on his measurements with the dividers, or watch him drill heart-shaped pupils into the statue's stone eyes.
Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti. Getty It is impossible to picture this labour as you approach David today in the Accademia gallery; inconceivable, really, how he got from toil to miracle. Other works by Michelangelo may call attention to the struggle of creation — you walk towards the tall hero down a long avenue of unfinished bodies, striving to be liberated from formless stone — but this hero of youth is as absolutely himself as are any of the people walking around his plinth.
Stand far back, and his outline is a sharp drawing, as if Michelangelo had confidently mapped the shape in the air with pen and ink. The face, turned almost 90 degrees to look to the left, with its triangle of a nose, mountain outcrop of an overhanging brow and florid hair flying out into space, forms a scintillating profile.
The proportions of the body are, from this distance, mathematically graceful. The measurement from the hair on the head to the fusillade of hair above the penis appears identical to that from genitals to toes.
And the winner is ...
You can almost feel the weight of the body gracefully shifting on to its right foot, as the figure easily inclines its left knee forward, rolling its ribcage on top of its stomach to move its centre of gravity. As you approach, this harmonious silhouette stays in your mind, yet also dissolves into glances and momentary impressions. The ridges and tensions of the immense chest high above you — the statue is more than twice the height of a living person, still higher because of the tall plinth — drink in nuances of shadow so that, up close, David is richly shaded: At his side hangs his gargantuan right hand — out of proportion, you suddenly realise, not just in scale but in the mesmerising, exaggerated attention to detail the sculptor lavished on it: Once you recognise the strangeness of this hand, the beautiful body Michelangelo has carved becomes still more alive.
This, you start to comprehend — although actually you sensed it from that very first view along the avenue — is not some chilly, perfect nude. It is mobile, active, keen-eyed. The hand is the most radical instance of a quality that all David's parts possess: The statue may be finished as a work of art, but what it portrays is unfinished: David contradicts himself even in his grace, because to be alive is to be contradictory.
Where David displays every muscle, his rival is respectably swathed. Her only action is to smile — to use what the anatomist Leonardo described coolly as "the muscles called lips".
She is both mortal and goddess, smiling archaic personage and merchant's wife. Her pose has an eternal inevitability, as if she contained within her a serpentine column, revolving heavenward in a perfectly calibrated spiral: The relief of shadow on her strong features gives her feminine beauty a masculine counter-life.
She is a hall of mirrors, a shrine of paradox. Those who see the Mona Lisa's reputation as exaggerated are refusing to see how formidable her mixture of classical perfection and dreamlike ambiguity actually is; how much is in that smile.
The Mona Lisa dwells in a painted atmosphere so thick she might be suspended in tinted liquid. This image of Leonardo has been recreated in the statue of him that stands outside the Uffizi Gallery.
Was Michelangelo a better artist than Leonardo da Vinci? - Telegraph
Vasari's descriptions[ edit ] According to Vasari"In the normal course of events many men and women are born with various remarkable qualities and talents; but occasionally, in a way that transcends nature, a single person is marvellously endowed by heaven with beauty, grace and talent in such abundance that he leaves other men far behind Everyone acknowledged that this was true of Leonardo da Vinci, an artist of outstanding physical beauty who displayed infinite grace in everything he did and who cultivated his genius so brilliantly that all problems he studied were solved with ease.
He possessed great strength and dexterity; he was a man of regal spirit and tremendous breadth of mind However, there is some controversy over the identity of the subject, because the man represented appears to be of a greater age than the 67 years lived by Leonardo.
A solution which has been put forward is that Leonardo deliberately aged himself in the drawing, as a modern forensic artist might do, in order to provide a model for Raphael's painting of him as Plato in The School of Athens.
A profile portrait in the Ambrosiana Gallery in Milan is generally accepted to be a portrait of Leonardo, and also depicts him with flowing beard and long hair. This image was repeated in the woodcut designed for the first edition of Vasari's Lives.
In his notebooks, he wrote in mirror image because of his left handedness it was easier for himand he was falsely accused of trying to protect his work.
Was Michelangelo a better artist than Leonardo da Vinci?
More recently, Anglo-American art historians have for the most part discounted suggestions of ambidexterity. He was generally well loved by his contemporaries.
According to Vasari, "Leonardo's disposition was so lovable that he commanded everyone's affection". He was "a sparkling conversationalist" who charmed Ludovico il Moro with his wit. Vasari sums him up by saying: