Great Artists of the Italian Renaissance
In 1513, Pope Julius II died and his successor Pope Leo X, of the Medici family, commissioned Michelangelo to reconstruct the faÃ§ade of the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence and to adorn it with sculptures. Michelangelo agreed reluctantly. The three years Michelangelo spent in creating drawings and models for the faÃ§ade, as well as attempting to open a new marble quarry at Pietrasanta specifically for the project, were among the most frustrating in his career, as work was abruptly canceled by his financially strapped patrons before any real progress had been made. The basilica lacks a faÃ§ade to this day.
Apparently not the least embarrassed by this turnabout, the Medici later came back to Michelangelo with another grand proposal, this time for a family funerary chapel in the Basilica of San Lorenzo. Fortunately for posterity, this project, occupying the artist for much of the 1520s and 1530s, was more fully realized.
Michelangelo's The Last Judgment created between 1536 and 1541. Saint Bartholomew is shown holding the knife of his martyrdom and his flayed skin. The face of the skin is recognizable as Michelangelo.
In 1527, the Florentine citizens, encouraged by the sack of Rome, threw out the Medici and restored the republic. A siege of the city ensued, and Michelangelo went to the aid of his beloved Florence by working on the city's fortifications from 1528 to 1529. The city fell in 1530 and the Medici were restored to power. Completely out of sympathy with the repressive reign of the ducal Medici, Michelangelo left Florence for good in the mid-1530s, leaving assistants to complete the Medici chapel.