Of all the Old Masters, Leonardo and Caravaggio are undoubtedly the media darlings, subject to a ceaseless tide of speculative claim and counter-claim (the new loo paper dispensers in my local leisure centre are made by Da Vinci Solutions: is there nothing he couldn’t turn his hand to?). But that grumpy old man-mountain Michelangelo continues to hold his own. Scholarly tomes and popular biographies tumble regularly off the printing press, and the latest ‘discoveries’ remain newsworthy: Was he a fat cat who embezzled from the Pope’s family? Was the Last Judgement inspired by visits to steam baths? Is this a famous lost painting or sculpture?
The Florence-based American scholar John T Spike made his name with a Caravaggio biography, but now returns to the fold with Young Michelangelo: The Path to the Sistine. It is the most detailed account available of Michelangelo’s first thirty-three years, and there is more than enough significant biographical