Truly in a class of its own, Young Michelangelo is the most definitive and eye-opening study of the artist’s early life to come along in a generation.
In this compelling account, renowned art historian John Spike paints a vivid portrait of one of the world’s greatest artists and the places and people—Lorenzo de’ Medici, Leonardo, Machiavelli—that inspired and defined his early life and career. Spike’s masterful text probes the thinking, evolution, and desires of a young man whose awareness of his exceptional talent never wavered. Michelangelo’s complex personality is revealed through lively examinations of the Pietà, the David, and all other major works. Drawing on a rich background of Italian Renaissance politics and culture, Spike deftly navigates the fiery Florentine master’s struggle to surpass da Vinci’s artistic mastery, and his troubled relationships with Julius II and other key figures of the era.
Praise for Young Michelangelo:
“Making the most of Michelangelo’s ample correspondence and the recently published records of his extensive banking transactions, Spike has drawn an astonishingly vivid portrait of the artist’s first 33 years. It's the best life of Michelangelo I've read, and it leaves one wishing the author would complete Michelangelo’s life with his wonderful grasp of the artist’s tenacious personality and Herculean achievement.” ~ Everett Fahy, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman of the Department of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
“Tense and agile as an early sculpture, Young Michelangelo is a compelling portrait of the artist as a young man in a dangerous time.” ~ Peter Robb, Author of M: The Man Who Became Caravaggio
"Spike crystallizes historical detail into vivid, memorable imagery. . . . Alternating between accounts of the turbulent political atmosphere and details of Michelangelo’s most private moments in the sculpture studio, Spike creates a rich narrative that promises more intrigue than the best adventure novel."—Publishers Weekly
"Spike's original and valuable approach to studying [Michelangelo's] childhood, development, and reputation as one of the greats of the Renaissance provides a deeper understanding of such a wondrous, almost mythic figure. An essential book for Renaissance collections and devotees." —Library Journal
“This erudite but immensely readable account is essential for anyone who desires to know more about Michelangelo’s formation.” ~ David Alan Brown, National Gallery of Art
“Spike is a masterful weaver of disparate information into a synthetic narrative. He provides a rich web of the political, social, and personal contexts against which Michelangelo's early career unfolded.” ~ John Hunisak, Professor of Art & Architecture, Middlebury College
"Spike captures [Michelangelo's] magnetism, his drive and the sheer scale of his ambition.... A veteran biographer of Caravaggio, Masaccio and Fra Angelico, Spike relates Michelangelo's wanderings to his restlessness and the troubles of his era, from the rise of the fundamentalist preacher Savonarola in Florence to the many skirmishes provoked by Rome's bellicose Julius." ~ The Sunday Times
"No art historian has got closer to [Michelangelo] than John T Spike. The Florence-based American, whose coup here is his access to the artist's recently published financial accounts and consequently enhanced understanding of his dealings with patrons, is an immensely flexible writer who has produced a book of alternating pans and zooms. . . . At the same time, however, the worldly dealings that Spike recounts, and his textured reconstruction of the times that his subject moved moodily through, make the artist seem more human than ever before. We're left with a Michelangelo who lived on earth as a man, but also had an element of the unearthly about him. . . . Though it probably only portends a trilogy, it's perhaps no accident that Spike's narrative ends in the artist's 33rd year." ~ The Telegraph
"As John T Spike argues in this crisply thorough biography, Michelangelo Buonarroti, like so many men of talent, seems to have known his own worth almost from the moment he came into the world. . . . Certainly the man Spike gives us is an altogether more worldly figure than the agonised ecstatic served up by Irving Stone and Charlton Heston on the silver screen." ~ Daily Express
"John T. Spike, an art historian, curator and critic, has done some impressive research to flesh out the early years of the artist's life, right up until his return to Rome in 1508 to focus on a commission in the Sistine Chapel. The young sculptor's daunting talent and quest to earn as much money as possible are woven into the story of the Italian Renaissance and the outsized figures of the age." ~ The Washington Post
"Spike, a renowned art critic, curator, and author, is the first modern writer to create such a comprehensive account of the master's early life and rise to fame amid the political upheaval in the Papal States and Florentine Republic." ~ Art + Auction