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In honor of what would’ve been his 543rd birthday, today I am offering for free download a Charlotte Mason picture study aid for Michelangelo! Buon compleanno, Signore Buonarroti!
This is, by far, the longest picture study I have made to date (47 pages not included the full-size prints at the end!) and will probably be the longest one I make for a while. This was due to a few things, mainly that one of the pieces chosen by Ambleside Online to use for Michelangelo was the Sistine Chapel and the ceiling alone comprises over 40 scenes which I was, honestly, unsure of how to cover well while also being succinct. The sheer amount of information available on Michelangelo also offers so many interesting details about his life and his work that it was difficult to decide what to include and what to leave out.
Because there was no specific mention of what part of the Sistine Chapel was to be included on Ambleside Online, I only have the ceiling offered here. I really had intended to also include The Last Judgment on the altar wall, but time and the desire to preserve my own sanity held me back. Eventually, I am planning an overhaul of all of the picture study aids and I may include it at that point. If you would like to see The Last Judgment added, please feel free to add comments at my picture study aid feedback form. I read all comments left here and love to hear any suggestions to make these picture study aids better!
This picture study aid will differ somewhat from those I’ve made in the past in that for each piece, I have included excerpts from Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Artists, with some of them, especially that covering the Sistine Chapel ceiling, being particularly long. I felt that as Vasari was not only a contemporary of Michelangelo but also a fellow artist and friend, his viewpoint would be exceptionally helpful and provide insight that we don’t normally have access to from an artist who lived this long ago. I would not recommend reading these excerpts to your student directly. These are meant more for you as the teacher to gain more understanding of the pieces. I would highly recommend also reading the rest of what Vasari wrote about Michelangelo in Volume 9 of his Lives of the Artists as it provides a wonderful portrait of Michelangelo, not only as an artist, but also a person.
I also want to offer a special thank you to Bryce Haymond for allowing me to include his beautiful diagram of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
If you downloaded the Pieta mini picture study aid I offered a few weeks back, I have made some changes since that file was created (particularly in the translation of Vasari), so you will want to use the updated version.
This aid follows along with the two previous offerings in that I included full-size prints (without artist names or work titles) at the end.
I’ll repost the children’s books I offered on the Pieta post as well. As you can imagine, there are quite a few of these out there as well and I imagine your local library has at least one of them to use throughout the term!
- Knights of Art by Amy Steedman – This is my source for his childhood story, but it’s only an excerpt. You may also be interested in reading the rest of his life from it as well. (Also available for free here.)
- Art for Children: Michelangelo by Ernest Raboff – Someone tipped me off to these books a while back on Instagram (IG friend, if you’re reading this, please let me know so I can give you credit!). This whole series is great and really well done.
- Michelangelo by Diane Stanley – This is the same author who wrote and illustrated Bard of Avon as well as several other books on famous composers, artists, and historical figures – beautiful pictures and well written in story form.
- Stone Giant by Jane Sutcliffe (illustrated by John Shelley) – A book in story form, specifically about Michelangelo’s David.
- Michelangelo (Masterpieces: Artists and Their Work) by Shelley Swanson Sateren – Covers many of the pieces included in this term.
- Art Profiles for Kids: Michelangelo by Jim Whiting – Very detailed and good for older students.
- Michelangelo for Kids by Simonetta Carr – Also very detailed and includes several projects.
Another great book for artists in general that contains projects to learn some of the techniques that Michelangelo used is Discovering Great Artists. One warning in this book that you may see in other resources is that Michelangelo did not paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling while laying down. This is a common misconception and I’m not sure where it originated, but he himself provided evidence to the contrary.
Last but not least, on the Vatican website, there is a virtual tour you can take of the Sistine Chapel that allows you to control the camera. Definitely take advantage of this amazing resource!
This is by no means an exhaustive analysis or study of each piece, and that is intentional. I tried to keep it all very simple in the spirit of there being, “no talk about schools of painting, little about style; consideration of these matters comes in later life, the first and most important thing is to know the pictures themselves. As in a worthy book we leave the author to tell his own tale, so do we trust a picture to tell its tale through the medium the artist gave it. In the region of art as else-where we shut out the middleman.” (vol 6 pg 216)
Also, please keep in mind that I’m not even close to being a Charlotte Mason expert! And though I do have a BA in art history, I’m definitely not an expert in that area either. 🙂
For enjoying art with children in general, I also included a page of art sources that I’ve found particularly good:
Online Art Collections
For younger children, I highly recommend the Mini-Master series by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober. Also, the Touch The Art series by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo.
For both younger and older children, the Come Look With Me series by Gladys S. Blizzard is excellent.
You may download it for personal use in your own homeschool (Ambleside Online, another Charlotte Mason curriculum, or otherwise). All of the prints are included in the Picture Study Aid file, so need to download a separate file for that. If you have any feedback or suggestions, please feel free to fill out this form!