Michelangelo Net Worth at Death – Salary, Income, Wife

Michelangelo Net Worth 

According to his bank accounts and numerous sales contracts, Michelangelo’s net worth was about 50,000 gold ducats, more than many princes and dukes of his time. Michelangelo Buonarroti was a painter, sculptor, architect, and poet widely considered one of the most brilliant artists of the Italian Renaissance.

Michelangelo was an apprentice to a painter before studying in the sculpture gardens of the powerful Medici family. What followed was a remarkable career as an artist, famed in his own time for his artistic virtuosity. He earned most of his fortune from his artwork.

Michelangelo was born in the Republic of Florence and his work had a great influence on the development of Western art, especially in relation to the concepts of humanism and naturalism in the Renaissance.

Michelangelo had a very austere personal life. He once said to his apprentice, Ascanio Condivi, “However rich I may have been, I have always lived like a poor man.” 

Although he always considered himself a Florentine, Michelangelo lived most of his life in Rome, where he died at the age of 88.

To calculate the net worth of Michelangelo, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts and personal loans are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: Michelangelo
Net Worth: 50,000 gold ducats
Monthly Salary: 30 gold ducats
Annual Income: 700 gold ducats
Source of Wealth: Sculptor, Painter, Architect

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Early Life

Born into the Florentine Buonarroti family in the village of Caprese, Italy, Michelangelo was the second of five gifted, classically educated brothers. Unlike his brothers, the boy was a poor scholar. 

Nevertheless, Michelangelo outlived and easily outdistanced all of his brothers in his achievements. His genius drew him to the study of human forms rather than the study of words in books. His influence on the visual arts of the Renaissance would be profound, making him one of the most famous persons of his time and of history. 

With the death of his mother at age six, the physically weak lad withdrew into imagination and art. Although his ill-tempered father considered art a lowly profession, unworthy of the family, young Michelangelo continued to demonstrate an unusual talent and satisfaction in drawing. 

Every chance he got, he stole away into surrounding galleries and churches to study works of admired artists. He was also drawn to poetry, especially the “vulgar” writings of his fellow Florentine, Dante. At age 12, Michelangelo was apprenticed to the most famous painter in Florence, Domenico Ghirlandaio. 

However, discouraged and bored by his limited duties as an errand boy, he left Ghirlandaio’s workshop before completing his apprenticeship. Influenced by Bertoldo, a disciple of the great sculptor Donatello, Michelangelo first followed, then quickly surpassed, his mentor’s graceful style. 

Lorenzo the Magnificent, ruler of Florence, was impressed by the gifted 15-year-old and took him into the Medici palace to live with his own family. Lorenzo became the artist’s patron and “second father.” 

Michelangelo’s earliest surviving sculpture, dating from that period, is a battle scene bearing the dynamic movement and force that became his stylistic mark. Following Lorenzo’s death in 1492, the Medici family lost power. 

After a period of mourning, the young artist purchased “an enormous block of marble” with the intent of carving a colossal mythological subject – Hercules. He was obsessed with creating objects of violence and power, some say as a result of his frail stature and inferior feelings as a youth. “Hercules” and other projects he began were often left unfinished. 

Michelangelo described his own appearance as almost monstrous: his head was an “inverted pyramid,” with a large-templed head tapering to a crooked, broken nose and a small chin and protruding lower lip. “My face inspires fear,” he wrote on one occasion. He had broad shoulders that quickly narrowed into a tangle of thin arms and legs.

Michelangelo began traveling between Rome and Florence, frequently commissioned by popes and dukes to design and produce works of art. The pay was meager, and Michelangelo’s father warned him against the dangers of being overly “penurious.” 

Though his genius was not as universal as that of his older contemporary, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo showed amazing versatility. He studied every branch of learning related to his art: “It has always been my great delight to converse with learned persons, and if I recall correctly, there was not one literary man in Florence who was not my friend.” 

He studied anatomy – by dissecting corpses – and was also interested in astronomy. However, his primary accomplishments were realized in three main creative areas: sculpture, painting, and architecture. Michelangelo is perhaps the only man in history to have reached the pinnacle of mastery in two of these fields.

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Michelangelo as Sculptor

Most critics acclaim Michelangelo the greatest sculptor who ever lived. His first major work, commissioned by a prominent Roman banker, was a statue of the wine god Bacchus. 

At 23 he carved the “Pieta,” a marble representation of the Virgin Mary cradling her crucified son. The statue projects a deep yet unsentimental emotional quality, great physical strength and power, and genuine heroism. 

This work established the sculptor’s reputation as an exceptional artist. Michelangelo fought for the commission to carve a badly damaged piece of marble that would become the enormous likeness of a “perfect” and vigorous young “David.” 

This statue, and those that followed, demonstrate an unexcelled artistry. Somewhat more simplified than most sculpture of the day, all these works were characterized by a strong, solemn appearance. 

During this time, Michelangelo accepted too many commissions. The large and numerous contracts frequently so distracted the artist that he became seriously depressed. Suffering from acute illnesses, frequent headaches and exhaustion all through his life, Michelangelo often simply chose to move on and begin another project, rather than fret over an unfinished one. In 1505 a tomb with 40 marble statues was ordered built by Pope Julius II. 

Forty years later, Michelangelo had completed only a few of the pieces – but fortunately these included his renowned “Moses” figure. Depicted as noble and deep in thought, the statue was used as the centerpiece of the tomb. Other tombs, other “Pietas” (one designed for his own tomb), and many minor works were also begun – but only some were completed.

Michelangelo’s difficulties continued. In a letter to his brother, Buonarroto, he described his state: “I am suffering greater hardships than any man endured, ill, and with overwhelming labor; still I have patience in order to reach the desired end. … I am practically barefoot and naked, I cannot collect any money until the work is finished; I am suffering the greatest discomforts and irritations.”

During this time, while he was busy carving heroes and saints, his dominating thought was of his lost mother. His need for maternal caresses overshadowed all his other concerns. He completed at least four Madonnas with Child (three sculptures and one painting) in that four-year period.

Michelangelo loved freedom, and was one of Florence’s foremost political reformers. Even so, for thirty years he lodged like a poor, imprisoned man in a small dark room full of spiders’ webs – conditions which he facetiously described in verse:

I am shut up here like pith in the bark of a tree –

alone and miserable like a soul imprisoned in a vial,

and my dark tomb is a tiny wretched cave where

Arachne and her thousand workers spin their webs.

But even after he grew quite rich, the artist never wanted to move from these miserable quarters, which he called his “dark tomb.”

My happiness is my melancholy

These discomforts my repose…

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Michelangelo as Painter

Florence’s government petitioned Michelangelo and da Vinci to collaborate on painted battle scenes for the walls of the city hall. From Leonardo, Michelangelo picked up several techniques and even greater skill in interweaving his subjects. His figures became not only massive, but also filled with intense vitality and movement.

Julius II gave Michelangelo his next commission – the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. The frescos show nine scenes from the Old Testament, including the creation, the story of Adam and Eve, and Noah and the flood. These are surrounded by 12 larger-than-life paintings of male and female prophets. 

For hours on end from the years 1508 to 1512 Michelangelo stood on the scaffolding with his hands raised above his head to brush the brilliant colors on the grand ceiling – a ceiling that would one day be his legacy. Solitude was a necessity for him to bring this project to conclusion. He wrote to Buonarroti: “I have no friends, and I seek none.”

As the work progressed, he gained confidence, characterized by more powerful and colorful strokes. But, later, his strokes depicted tension and violence, probably a reflection of the aging Pope Julius’ impatience. 

The Pope would often reprove and goad the artist, once resorting to beating him. Nearing completion, Michelangelo turned to a more restrained, contemplative mood of composing his figures; and finally, in resolution, he “completed” the ceiling, leaving certain parts less detailed and unadorned with gold than others. When Julius complained, “It should be touched with gold. … It will seem poor,” Michelangelo replied, “Those who are painted here were poor themselves.” And so the masterpiece remained.

Michelangelo went home to Florence, but in 1534, disgruntled with the Medici’s rule and the lowly commissions he was receiving, he again returned to Rome, where he spent the next ten years painting for Pope Paul III. His most notable project was “The Last Judgment,” showing the souls of mankind rising on one side of the Sistine’s altar wall and falling on the other.

Michelangelo – Architect and Poet

Michelangelo designed the Medici Chapel and the Medici family tombs in Florence. These, along with the majestic Laurentian library built at the same time, were his most complete and ornate works – magnificently intense, symbolic statements of his interpretations of human destiny. 

Four princely figures (Day, Night, Dawn, and Evening) recline on the curved lids of the tombs. These, in concert with long, narrow arching walls, and hollow, elongated recesses, reveal how Michelangelo saw the soul rising from the body after death and the endless movement of time between this life and the eternities.

In his seventies, Michelangelo devoted most of his time to architecture, poetry, and some painting. These later creations emphasized emotional simplicity. He exchanged his earlier, more violent, popular style for one that was more subdued, classical. 

No longer was he concerned with complicated interlocking of bodies in his paintings, nor with intricately designed buildings or structured poems. Some 300 of his insightful sonnets still survive, though they were not published until long after his death.

In 1546, Pope Paul III appointed Michelangelo chief architect of St Peter’s Church. He also planned a plaza-type civic center for Rome. Built after his death, the square avoids ordinary shapes, and directs its focus to the Senate House. 

Michelangelo suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 1561. For several days his mind was confused and his speech disconnected; but once again his tireless spirit conquered the weakness of his body. Within days, he journeyed by horseback to work on his designs for the Porta Pia. “Art and death are not good companions,” he recorded.

Michelangelo kept up his rigorous routine to the end. In Rome, just before his eighty-ninth birthday, he died. He had never married: “I have too much of a wife in my art, and she has given me trouble enough; as to my children, they are the works which I shall leave behind me, and if they are not worth much at least they will live for a short time. … ” He left behind, indeed, an impressive “posterity” of masterpieces.

As a great leader of the Italian Renaissance, Michelangelo broke from tradition, brought artists greater respect throughout Europe, and used his creative energy to become a great artist, a paragon to those who follow after him.

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Personal Life & Wife

Although he never married, Michelangelo was devoted to a pious and noble widow named Vittoria Colonna, who was the subject and recipient of many of his more than 300 poems and sonnets. Her friendship remained a great comfort to Michelangelo until Colonna’s death in 1547.

In 1532 Michelangelo developed an affection for a young nobleman, Tommaso dei Cavalieri, and wrote dozens of romantic sonnets dedicated to Cavalieri.

Nevertheless, scholars argue whether this was a platonic or homosexual relationship.

Death

Following a brief illness, Michelangelo died on February 18, 1564, at his home in Macel de’Corvi, Rome, just weeks before his 89th birthday.

A nephew carried his body back to Florence, where he was regarded as the “Father and Master of All Arts.” He was laid to rest at the Basilica di Santa Croce, his preferred burial location.

Legacy

Unlike many other artists, Michelangelo achieved fame and fortune during his lifetime. He also had the distinction of seeing the publication of two biographies about his life, written by Giorgio Vasari and Ascanio Condivi.

Appreciation for Michelangelo’s artistic mastery has endured for centuries, and his name has become synonymous with the best humanist tradition of the Renaissance.

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Michelangelo Quotes

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.

 

The marble not yet carved can hold the form of every thought the greatest artist has.

 

I live and love in God’s peculiar light.

 

Genius is eternal patience.

 

The best of artists has no conception that the marble alone does not contain within itself.

 

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.

 

If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.

View our larger collection of the best Michelangelo quotes.

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