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Michelangelo (March 6, 1475-February 18, 1564), born Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, was the quintessential artist of the Italian High Renaissance, and is widely accepted as one of the most influential figures in the history of art. Known for his stunning frescos and entrancing sculptures, Michelangelo began his artistic career under the patronage of Lorenzo de Medici, the highly influential Florentine statesman. The fall of the Medici family in the 1490s led to Michelangelo’s decision to relocate to Rome. Though he eventually returned to Florence, Michelangelo was invited back to Rome by Pope Julius II in 1505, where he eventually began work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The enormous fresco ceiling took four years to complete, and is now known as Michelangelo’s masterpiece, containing some his most iconic images, such as the Creation of Adam and The Last Judgment. Michelangelo’s mastery of what is known as terribilita, a sense of awe, wonderment, and grandeur, has inspired artists throughout the history of art, and even resulted in the Mannerism movement, which directly followed Michelangelo’s own period. There can be no doubt that Michelangelo is one of the most important artists in the Western world.
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Perhaps the most iconic image of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel fresco ceiling, The Creation of Adam is thought to have been completed between 1511 and 1512. Fourth in the chronology of biblical panels completed by the artist, Michelangelo depicts the figures of God and Adam, arms outstretched, with fingers about to touch. It is easily one of the most instantly recognizable images, and has been countlessly reproduced and parodied throughout popular culture. Creation of Adam not only demonstrates Michelangelo's incredible talent for inspiring awe in his viewers, but also his very detailed knowledge of human anatomy. Meticulous in composition, the fresco remains the focal point of the Sistine ceiling, which has relentlessly attracted visitors from around the world for hundreds of years.