Monday, August 18, 2014

Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces by Miles J. Unger

One of my favourite types of biographies would be those that center around topics, rather than narrating the chronological history of a person. For example, The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things did this perfectly (click to read my review). So when I saw Michelangelo, A Life in Six Masterpieces, I had to request it.

This biography of Michelangelo takes six of his masterpieces and uses them as the focus for a particular section of Michelangelo's life. The six pieces in question are: The Pieta, David, The Sistine Chapel, The Last Judgement, the tombs he carved for the Medici and the vaults and dome of St. Peter.

Mixed in with the biography are plenty of analysis of the six pieces, using the historical context as a base for extracting meaning. I liked reading the analysis, but I've always been terrible at analysing art, so I have no idea if they're accurate (or even conventional).

Personally, I liked the first few chapters much better than the last few. The first few chapters felt much more closely tied to the work in question, but the last few chapters felt as though they were trying to cram in as much information about Michelangelo's life as possible.

But, I guess I shouldn't complain about that, because Michelangelo's a fascinating guy. This is the first biography of him that I've read, and I've found out so much about him. I knew he was a perfectionist, but I didn't expect him to be this fussy and temperamental (as well as so enthusiastic about editing his own history).

This book is for fans of Michelangelo, and art history students. I found it to be an interesting book, and I learnt a lot from it.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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