The Forgery That Helped Make Michelangelo Famous
At the beginning of his career, Michelangelo went along with a plan to make a marble sculpture look much older in origin. It helped make his career.
If there’s one constant in the lives of artists, it’s this: it’s damn hard to be a budding creative. From the Renaissance to the contemporary “isms”, art has evolved at the hands of young, brilliant minds struggling to express new ideas and experiment with cutting-edge techniques…all while finding a way to pay those pesky bills.
Even Michelangelo—one of the most important artists to touch chisel to marble or paint brush to ceiling—wasn’t immune to this predicament. But, he was a genius. So naturally, he came up with a genius scheme to help gain some monetary relief early in his career. In short, the great Michelangelo became a forger.
In 1496, Michelangelo Buonarroti was a 21-year-old Florentine transplant to Rome. His life had been thrown into turmoil over the previous four years after his patron, Lorenzo de Medici, succumbed to old age in 1492. With the death of the most powerful man in Florence, the city found itself victim to a tide of political unrest.