Oil and Marble: A Story of Leonardo and Michaelangelo
by Stephanie Storey
We’ve all heard about star crossed paths and during the years 1501 and 1505 the paths of Leonardo DaVinci and Michaelangelo Buonarroti crossed in Florence. Leonardo was fifty years old and at the peak of his popularity, Michaelangelo was in his twenties and trying to make his name.
Leonardo was possessed by his desire to fly, he was finishing none of his projects, which didn’t endear him to his patrons and probably because of this he had just lost the commission to carve the Duccio stone, a commission awarded to Michaelangelo.
Michaelangelo just finished the Pieta and moved back to Florence, where he felt he could make his name. His family disowned him because he was “just” a stone carver but he was desperate and determined to follow his path, make his name and support his family. He was awarded the Duccio stone, a single piece of marble that had languished on the ground for years. It took months for the stone to speak to him but when it finally did, Michaelangelo worked himself almost to death to bring David to the light. The finished David was a sensation then and still is today.
Both painter and carver are at odds in their years together in Florence. Leonardo is suspicious of the young sculptor and sneers at his inexperience, jealous of the award of this commission. Michaelangelo despises Leonardo yet knows he is in the presence of genius. While neither really tries to sabatoge the other’s work – Leonardo is painting the Mona Lisa during this time that Michaelangelo is carving David – there is suspicion and dread when the two must meet and defend their work.In the end, both prevail.
This was a really interesting story of the juxtaposition of genius. Well worth reading.