Michelangelo’s developing genius is revealed as never before by the man who became Michelangelo’s last apprentice—
an American artist and art historian whose family helped carve Mount Rushmore.
Many believe Michelangelo’s talent was miraculous and untrained, the product of “divine” genius—a myth that Michelangelo himself promoted by way of cementing his legacy. But the young Michelangelo studied his craft like any Renaissance apprentice, learning from a master, copying, and experimenting with materials and styles. In this extraordinary book, Alan Pascuzzi recounts the young Michelangelo’s journey from student to master, using the artist’s drawings to chart his progress and offering unique insight into the true nature of his mastery.
Pascuzzi himself is today a practicing artist in Florence, Michelangelo’s city. When he was a grad student in art history, he won a Fulbright to “apprentice” himself to Michelangelo: to study his extant drawings and copy them to discern his progression in technique, composition, and mastery of anatomy. Pascuzzi also relied on the Renaissance treatise that “Il Divino” himself would have been familiar with, Cennino Cennini’s The Craftsman’s Handbook (1399), which was available to apprentices as a kind of textbook of the period.
Pascuzzi’s narrative traces Michelangelo’s development as an artist during the period from roughly 1485, the start of his apprenticeship, to his completion of the Sistine Chapel ceiling in 1512. Analyzing Michelangelo’s burgeoning abilities through copies he himself executed in museums and galleries in Florence and elsewhere, Pascuzzi unlocks the transformation that made him great. At the same time, he narrates his own transformation from student to artist as Michelangelo’s last apprentice.