He was only lucky when he could work stone with all his might. The pure
marble. It is told that he could work more than three masters of stonemasons
together in one day. And all those unfinished works tell us that he never
ever miscalculated by the smallest millimetre. Heaviness and hardness of the
stone - and locked up within the finished figure - became over and over
again a metaphor in his poems in which he spoke mostly about himself and his
grief with a new melancholy and outmost seriousness. He was not only a sculptor,
graphic artist and architect, he was also the greatest lyrical poet of his
century and beside Leonardo and Raphael its greatest painter.
I think the key to Michelangelo's work is his tortured soul. The French poet Romain Rolland has expressed it this way:
"He was a Florentine inhabitant - from that same Florence with the gloomy palaces, with the lancet-like towers, with the rolling and dry hills which contrast, fine chiselled, the violet-coloured sky with the black spindles of their small cypresses and the silvery shawl of the wave-like trembling olive-trees. From the Florence with its shrill elegance, where the pale, ironic face Lorenzo de' Medici's and Machiavelli with the smart, big mouth meets Botticelli's Primavera and his pallid Venus-figures with the pale-golden hair.
From Florence: feverish, haughty, neurotically - delivered to all fanatics, shaken by all religious or social hysterias - Florence, where everybody was free and everybody was a tyrant, where they lived well and where life was a hell - from that town with the intelligent, impatient, enthusiastic, invidious citizens with their sharp tongues, with their suspicious minds, who laid in wait, envied, tormented each other.
From the town, where there was
no place for the free spirit of Leonardo, where Botticelli ended up in the
maniac mysticism of a Scottish puritan - where Savonarola with his goat's
profile and burning eyes let his monks danced around the pyre upon which
burnt the work of arts. And where three years later again a pyre burnt to burn the
He remained the last alone, in the night, who sunk down. And as he looked back at the threshold of death, he didn't even receive the comfort, to tell himself he had done everything he had should done. His life seemed to be wasted. In vain it had been without joy. In vain he had sacrificed it to the idol of Art."