Michelangelo: The Later Years

In 1534 Michelangelo left Florence for the last time and spent the last 30 years of his life in Rome.  He was once again commissioned by the pope to paint a fresco this time on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel. 


This next great project the Last Judgment was probably inspired by the reforming pope, Paul III, who led the Counter-Reformation.


In his later years Michelangelo was less occupied with sculpture and became increasingly active as an architect.  In 1546 he was appointed as the chief architect of St. Peter’s Basilica.  One of his greatest architectural achievements is the dome of St. Peter’s, it is still one of the most notable images in the city today.

In his last years Michelangelo became increasingly spiritual in his work and drew a number of depictions of the Crucifixion.  During this time he also wrote some of his finest poetry which seemed to make direct religious statements.  Michelangelo also created two final sculptures the Pieta, intended for his own tomb, and Rondanini Pieta.

Michelangelo died in Rome on February 18, 1564 at the age of 88.  Unlike any other artist of his time Michelangelo had two biographies written about him during his lifetime, one by Vasari and the other by his pupil Condivi.

Further Reading

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Other Great Masters

Michelangelo Prints >

Creation of Adam (hands detail)
Creation of Adam (hands detail) by Michelangelo

Creation of Adam

Drawing of a Woman

Delphic Sibyl

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all.”

More Michelangelo Quotes