HISTART 351 - The Art and Poetry of Michelangelo
Section: 001
Term: WN 2019
Subject: History of Art (HISTART)
Department: LSA History of Art
Requirements & Distribution:
Advisory Prerequisites:
HISTART 102 or 251.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Painter, draughtsman, sculptor, architect and poet, Michelangelo Buonarroti exemplified the ideal artist of the Italian Renaissance for centuries after his death in 1564 at the remarkable age of eighty-nine. This seminar will examine a substantial portion of his paintings and sculptures in Rome and Florence as well as a large selection of his sonnets, madrigals and verse fragments. One of our goals is to understand Michelangelo’s importance in a time and place that was fairly crowded with artists of genius and ambition (Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael among them) while also understanding how contemporary writers and artists promoted his larger-than-life reputation as “the divine Michelangelo.” Another aim of the seminar is to tease out the intimate connections between Michelangelo’s poetry and visual art, both on the level of subject matter and on the level of figurative invention. Hence we will attend closely to a number of drawings that show the artist “thinking on paper” in line sketches and fragments of verse. We will examine Michelangelo’s selective imitation of ancient sculptures, his Neoplatonic philosophy of vision, his preoccupation with the beauty of the human body, his intense devotion to craft, and his self-fashioning as a grouchy genius who slept in his boots. We will consider the principal themes and genres of his poetry as well as the critical language employed by contemporary viewers of his art, such as the poet Vittoria Colonna, the biographer Giorgio Vasari, the friend Ascanio Condivi, the apologist Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo, the enemy Pietro Aretino, and the critic Ludovico Dolce. This course satisfies the Upper-Level Writing Requirement in the College of LS&A.

History of Art concentration distributions: 3.Early Modern, D. Europe and the US.


  • Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Poetry of Michelangelo, trans. James Saslow, Yale UP, 1991. ISBN: 0300055099
  • Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists. Volume I, trans. George Bull, Penguin Books, 1987. ISBN: 0140445005
  • Ascanio Condivi, The Life of Michelangelo, trans. A. S. Wohl, 2nd ed. Penn State UP, 1999. ISBN: 0271018534
  • Anthony Hughes, Michelangelo, Phaidon, 1997. ISBN: 9780714834832
  • Michael Harvey, The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing, 2nd ed., Hackett, 2013. ISBN: 9781603848985

Course Requirements:

3 short papers; 2 slide-essay exams; term paper 10 to 15 pages (draft and revision).

Intended Audience:

Upper-level undergraduates

Class Format:


HISTART 351 - The Art and Poetry of Michelangelo
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

Additional readings will be posted on Canvas
ISBN: 9781603848985
The nuts and bolts of college writing, Author: Harvey, Michael, Publisher: Hackett Publishing Company Inc 2013
ISBN: 9780714834832
Michelangelo, Author: Hughes, Anthony., Publisher: Phaidon Press 2001
ISBN: 9780300055092
The poetry of Michelangelo : an annotated translation, Author: Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1475-1564,, Publisher: Yale University Press 1993
ISBN: 9780271018539
The life of Michel-Angelo, Author: Condivi, Ascanio, approximately 1520-, Publisher: Pennsylvania State University Press 2006
ISBN: 9780140445008
Lives of the artists. Volume I, Author: Vasari, Giorgio, 1511-1574,
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