Who wrote this book and when?
Irving Stone published this book in 1961.

Has there been a film version?
Yes. In 1965, starring Rex Harrison (My Fair Lady) and Charlton Heston.

Who are the important characters?
Michelangelo Buonarroti – the fresco painter, rock and marble sculptor, bronze sculptor, and strong Christian, also known as “Il Divino”
Lorenzo de Medici – known as “Il Magnifico,” head of the Medici family, Michelangelo’s first sponsor and enormous patron of the arts in Florence
Contessina de Medici – Michelangelo’s first love
Lodovico Buonarroti – Michelangelo’s father
Bertoldo – Michelangelo’s marble master
Ghirlandio – Michelangelo’s fresco master

What’s it about?
This is the biography of one of the four great artists of Florence and the Renaissance – Michelangelo Buonarroti. He is the sculptor of the ultimate David, the painter of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and creator of some of the greatest works of art in history. However, there was much more to this man than art. Irving Stone uses Michelangelo’s own letters – over 400 of them – as well as biographies written about the man during his lifetime, to construct a story spanning almost 70 years and re-introducing us to one of the most beautiful, pious, and creative minds in the world.

Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
Because of its scope and emotion, plus it examines a famous figure.

Do you recommend I read this book?

How did this book make your list?
It didn’t. I thought I kind of recognized the name from somewhere when I saw it on the library shelf so I picked it up.

Has it won any awards?

Favorite quotes:
“Tuscany is a state of grace. The countryside is so lovingly designed that the eye sweeps the mountains and valleys without stumbling over a single stone. The lilt of the rolling green hills, the upsurging cypresses, the terraces sculptured by generations that have handled the rocks with skillful tenderness, the fields geometrically juxtaposed as though drawn by a draftsman for beauty as well as productivity; the battlements of castles on the hills, their tall towers standing gray-blue and golden tan among the forest of trees, the air of such clarity that every sod of earth stands out in dazzling detail…Tuscany untied the knots in a man’s intestines, wiped out the ills of his world.” – p 375

“His God must not be special or peculiar or particular, but God the Father to all men, one whom they could accept, honor, adore.” – p 539

Anything else?

Personal thoughts:
This book is incredible. I picked it up, having thought I’d heard of it … maybe … somewhere. And I was kind of nonplussed about reading it – especially because of its length and because I have no particular interest in Michelangelo. However, from the first chapters, Stone blew me away with the detail about Michelangelo and the richness of his life. He paints a character who is fully realized and emotionally charged – the portrait of an artist. Stone also examines the motivations behind the sculptures and paintings of this master and on how the man was
reflected in his works. Michelangelo was a daring individual, full of faith and emotion. He openly challenged three different popes, made enemies left and right because of his earthshattering ideas about what was allowable in art, yet also had men and women falling in love with both him and his work. I had never really thought about Michelangelo other than recognizing him for the Sistine Chapel and David. But knowing about his questionable sexuality (which Stone deals with delicately and prudently and in an unbiased manner), his associations with two of the other art greats of his time (Da Vinci and Raphael), his dedication to his family and first love of Contessina de Medici, and his obsessive passion for marble sculpture made him a living person for me. Once again, I emphasize – this is an incredible book which could possibly make my list of favorite books of all time.