Rome, Friday, February 18, 1564. Michelangelo died in his modest home of the very popular Rione Monti. He had 89 years. Beside him two dear friends, one of whom Daniele da Volterra, unfairly remembered as the Braghettone, wrote of him: “His bad lasted five days, three sitting by the fire, and two in bed.”
He left in this home some works (all unfinished), a collection of writings and drawings and, finally, a chest containing a huge amount of money, totally incongruent with the modest lifestyle that the artist had conducted during his existence.
The body was later brought to Florence, when on July 14 in San Lorenzo received his funeral as a prince, right in the Basilica dear to the Medici, where Michelangelo gave the story to some of his greatest architectural masterpieces and sculptures.
The burial took place in Santa Croce, in the monumental tomb staged by Giorgio Vasari flanked by weeping allegories of the arts, Sculpture, Painting and Architecture.
He was one of those “toscanacci” often capricious and sometimes overpowering that even dared to compete face to face with the great powers of the Popes and the Emperors of that time not because he was mad, but he was aware of his talent and his artistic greatness.
Shady character, melancholy, taciturn, lonely, will be for a lifetime fierce enemy of the Medici family, who will open the doors of Florence and Tuscany to the French but, not of Lorenzo de Medici, enlightened, intelligent, sublime.
Lorenzo loved watching Michelangelo sculpts and one day, when Michelangelo was young, a muscular, rough boy, Piero Torreggiani, posed continuous observations to Michelangelo who did not listen while he was making his work of sculpture.
Annoyed and provoked by the continuing silence, Torreggiani delivered a strong punch at Michelangelo giving him the split septum with displacement of the cartilage; since then Michelangelo will have the characteristic profile with a flat nose; Torreggiani had to leave Florence by order of Lorenzo de ‘Medici.
Tormented by an insatiable eagerness to create and to do, he was a restless and brilliant artist, who worked as a sculptor, painter and architect, in constant search of the ideal of beauty.
The fame of Michelangelo was already established in life. He had satisfactions that perhaps very few artists had received during their own existence and his own artistic career. Even today in front of his works we feel the same awe of those who, for the first time, watched his masterpieces, his contemporaries.
In Florence he made his greatest sculptural test: from a block of marble, modified and fragile, he made the David, destined to become the perfect ideal of masculine beauty in art.
La Pietà that we admire in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence was only partially carved by Michelangelo when he was seventy for his own tomb. The sculpture was damaged by Michelangelo himself, dissatisfied with the result.