Young Michelangelo: The Path to the Sistine by John T Spike; Michelangelo and the Art of Letter Writing by Deborah Parker; Michelangelo: A Life on Paper by Leonard Barkan - review by James Hall

James Hall

Three Attempts on Michelangelo’s Life

Young Michelangelo: The Path to the Sistine

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Duckworth Overlook 271pp £20 order from our bookshop

Michelangelo and the Art of Letter Writing

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Cambridge University Press 156pp £50 order from our bookshop

Michelangelo: A Life on Paper

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Princeton University Press 366pp £34.95 order from our bookshop
 

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

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