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On this day in 1512 Michelangelo Buonarroti completed painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Contrary to popular belief, he did not paint it lying on his back, but standing up.
Michelangelo always considered himself above all to be a sculptor rather than a painter – he had never attempted a fresco before starting on the Sistine Chapel which was a commission that he hated but completed at the behest of the Pope.
Michelangelo lived simply although he was by no means poor and he looked after his family and those who worked for him well. His influence on Western art has been enormous. He had many male lovers in his life and wrote a lot of poetry on the subject of love. Here is a taste of his style, though in translation:
O night, O sweetest time, though black of hue,
With peace you force all the restless work to end;
Those who exalt you see and understand,
And he is sound of mind who honours you.
You cut the thread of tired thoughts, for so
You offer calm in your moist shade; you send
To this low sphere the dreams where we ascend
Up to the highest, where I long to go.
Shadow of death that brings to quiet close
All miseries that plague the heart and soul,
For those in pain the last and best of cures;
You heal the flesh of its infirmities,
Dry and our tears and shut away our toil,
And free the good from wrath and fretting cares.
Today I ask that I may do my best in whatever I turn my hand to.