Born in 1475 near Florence, the geographical beating heart of the Italian Renaissance, Michelangelo Buonarroti was given over to a wet nurse for the first part of his infancy. As his wet nurse was both the daughter and wife of stonemasons, Michelangelo joked to his friend and biographer Giorgio Vasari that he “took in the hammer and chisels with which I carve my figures from my wet nurse's milk.”1(p415) After bearing 5 sons, Michelangelo's mother died when he was 6 years old, setting up young Michelangelo for a life apparently bereft of female influence. Although numerous documents and biographical accounts exist from the 16th century, not one description of his mother is given. It was not until old age that Michelangelo formed a meaningful attachment with a woman, the elderly Vittoria Colonna, who by that time lived in a convent. Numerous historians have speculated that a life so immersed in male influence shaped the course of Michelangelo's art.
Tracy L. Michelangelo's Deposition of Christ: Masculine Beauty and Neoplatonism. JAMA Facial Plast Surg. 2013;15(1):68–69. doi:10.1001/2013.jamafacial.204
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