Geeks logo

5 Facts You Probably Don't Know About Michelangelo

#3. David was carved from a discarded piece of marble

By Kamna KirtiPublished 8 months ago 3 min read

Michelangelo was a gift to humankind. 600 years to his death, art historians and writers love dissecting his work and life.

So let's cut straight to the chase and uncover 5 facts about Michelangelo you probably might not know.

1. Perfection = Michelangelo

We all know Michelangelo's Moses.

Michelangelo's Moses. Source - Public Domain

Some of you might know the reason behind Michelangelo's horned Moses. It might astonish you, but it was a linguistic blunder.

When St. Jerome translated the Hebrew version of the bible into Latin Vulgate, the Hebrew "horn," meaning emitting light (glorified face), was misinterpreted in the Vulgate as "literal horns."

I have already talked about this at length in this article.

Here, I'd like you to take a step closer and appreciate Michelangelo's in-depth knowledge of human anatomy.

A closer view of Moses.

There is a contraction of a tiny muscle in his forearms.

It happens only when we lift our pinky.

Indeed, a detail hidden in plain sight.

It proves Michelangelo's exceptional knowledge about human anatomy and the argument that he secretly dissected cadavers.

I know the moment you'd read this; you'll try to lift your pinky and see the muscle flex. I had goosebumps when I read about this the first time.


2. Michelangelo was gay

Being out of the closet wouldn't translate well in Michelangelo's lifetime.

The Vatican was against homosexuality and tried everything to suppress his relationship with men.

But his long-term companionship with an Italian nobleman, Tommaso Dei Cavalieri, the muscular portrayal of women in the Sistine Chapel, and same-sex couples kissing each other in his version of The Last Judgment are all well documented.

Kissing men can be seen in The Last Judgement and the muscular portrayal of Cumaean Sibyl in the Sistine Chapel. Source - Public Domain


3. David was carved from a discarded piece of marble

Michelangelo's David is indeed the most perfect statue in the world.

But did you know that the marble used in carving David was a discarded one?

Here's the story - In 1991, a man named Piero Cannata tried to vandalize David and damaged its left foot. The scientists took the marble pieces and analyzed that the marble's exact excavation was Fantiscritti quarries in Miseglia.

It was concluded that the marble Michelangelo used for David was quarried 40 years before for the sculpture by Agostino di Duccio.

As Duccio's project was abandoned in 1501, Michelangelo used the discarded uncut marble and carved the most sublime statue in art history.


4. Michelangelo's first painting

The Torment of Saint Anthony by Michelangelo (Left) and Saint Anthony Tormented by Demons by Martin Schongaue (Right)

Michelangelo began his career as a forged sculptor.

His first painting, The Torment of Saint Anthony, was the exact colored copy of German artist Martin Schongauer's Saint Anthony Tormented by Demons.

Michelangelo was probably 12 or 13 years of age when he painted this. So he colored the foreground and background with his imagination and made tiny bits of changes to Saint Anthony's composure.


5. Michelangelo's Erotic Poems

Michelangelo was a sculptor, painter, architect and poet.

His erotic poems to Cavalieri, which some argue are Neoplatonic in nature, are all documented.

In the poem 'Silkworm,' he imagines himself as being Cavalieri's clothes, tightly hugging his body and at one point desiring to be in his lover's shoes so that he could kiss Cavalieri's feet.

In another poem, 'Love's Lordship,' he confesses his immense passion for Cavalieri.

If only chains and bands can make me blest,

No marvel if alone and nude I go

An armed Cavalier's captive and slave confessed.

The 19th-century historians have discovered notes in the marginalia of Michelangelo's manuscripts that Michelangelo's grand-nephew, Michelangelo il Giovane, asked to have his poems censored before being published. The masculine pronouns were replaced with feminine to hide the homosexual sentiment from the public.

In fact, Michelangelo himself sometimes changed the word Signor to Signora before circulating his poems.


If you know any unique facts about Michelangelo's life and work, post them in the comments.


I have created my next goal, “Trip to Italy.” Help me finance this goal and I’d keep treating you with interesting articles. Promise!


About the Creator

Kamna Kirti

Art enthusiast. I engage with art at a deep level. I also share insights about entrepreneurship, founders & nascent technologies.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.