Artist Study: Michelangelo

artist studies

Resources we used

Ribbet collagetwo michaelangelo books

Biography of Michelangelo

Having read the books and watched the two videos the children had a quick look at this website and then filled in a note page which I printed from Nadine’s excellent collection at Practical Pages:

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The Works of Michelangelo

When choosing which pieces to focus on I returned to Practical Pages and printed out her famous artist wall chart for Michelangelo which we looked at each day.

  • Michelangelo Sculptures

The two statues we focused our study on were the Pieta and the statue of David:

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We looked at what the master sculptor himself said about the process of sculpting:

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it

What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed?

The marble not yet carved can hold the form of every thought the greatest artist has

I set the girls an essay to write under exam conditions:


I was so impressed by what they wrote.  I hadn’t discussed it before with them as I really wanted to hear what their initial thoughts were.  L12 thought that Michelangelo saw ‘uncarved statues as prisoners’, his eyes were able to see the block of marble as a ‘beautiful statue imprisoned within itself’ and that he felt it was his job to ‘set them free’.  She states at the end of her essay that ‘the stone beneath your hands will reveal the kind of person you are’.  C12 made an interesting suggestion that for Michelangelo, a man who did not marry and was not a man of many friends, the marble took on a life of its own and became as much of a friend or dearly beloved to him than any real person.

We decided to take on some carving ourselves whilst watching The Agony and the Ecstasy.   I bought some blocks of soap and gave them all sorts of tools and let them at it:

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They were carving and sculpting for hours but I think ultimately found it to be very frustrating and difficult.  It definitely gave them a greater appreciation of the huge gifts Michelangelo had.  Here are there finished statues:

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  • Michelangelo Paintings

Having studied Michelangelo once before when we were looking at Creation and using his art as a way to visualise what creation could have looked like, we had already done the upside down art under the table, and had lots of fun doing so.

I wanted to create a slightly more authentic way of replicating Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel.  It was my own idea and one (to be honest) I wasn’t entirely certain would work.

I had the girls cut out a large square of card board and attach to it an equally large piece of hessian using plant ties:

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Next L12 made up some plaster and began spooning it onto the card and hessian.  C12 smoothed it over as best she could:

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We left it to dry overnight.  The girls decided that they would attempt to replicate the part of the Sistine chapel where God’s hands are stretching out to meet Adam’s during His creation of Adam:


First an outline was drawn:

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This outline, the girls soon learnt, really needed to be darker because once the home made stucco had been brushed over it the outline mysteriously disappeared!  We made a very thin stucco from plaster and water and brushed it on a small piece at a time:

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I had thought to attempt to attach it to the underneath of our stairs and have the girls paint it there:

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This lasted for about 2 1/2 seconds before the complaining started.  It was a pathetic attempt at recreating the difficulties under which Michelangelo would have painted!  They decided it wasn’t going to happen out in the hall and, relieved they took it into the dining room to finish it off.  The reason for deciding to paint such a small area was to focus the girls’ efforts on the colour mixing and blending rather than the actual content of the painting:

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I think they did a really great job:


Well done girls!  A good job jobbed!


  1. Wonderful projects! I can only imagine the dedication Michelangelo must have had to have painted such a detailed and beautiful painting on the ceiling – my muscles ache just thinking about it.

    1. Yes, I was achy after just attempting to attach it to under our stairs, and the girls were pathetic!! No wonder he almost lost his mind painting the Sistine chapel!

  2. Fantastic study, Claire. The girls did a lovely job of painting. I don’t blame them for wanting to use the table. We have used many of Nadene’s pages. She is so kind in sharing them for free.
    Have a lovely evening.:)

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