Il Gigante: Michelangelo, Florence, and the David 1492-1504by Anton Gill
At the turn of the 16th century, Italy was a turbulent territory made up of independent states, each at war with or intriguing against its neighbor. There were the proud, cultivated, and degenerate Sforzas in Milan, and in Rome, the corrupt Spanish family of the Borgia whose head, Rodrigo, ascended to St Peter's throne as Pope Alexander VI. In Florence, a golden… See more details below
At the turn of the 16th century, Italy was a turbulent territory made up of independent states, each at war with or intriguing against its neighbor. There were the proud, cultivated, and degenerate Sforzas in Milan, and in Rome, the corrupt Spanish family of the Borgia whose head, Rodrigo, ascended to St Peter's throne as Pope Alexander VI. In Florence, a golden age of culture and sophistication ended with the death of the greatest of the Medici family, Lorenzo the Magnificent, giving way to an era of uncertainty, cruelty, and religious fundamentalism.
In the midst of this turmoil, there existed the greatest concentration of artists that Europe has ever known. Influenced by the rediscovery of the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome, artists and thinkers such as Botticelli and da Vinci threw off the shackles of the Middle Ages to produce one of the most creative periods in history - the Renaissance.
This is the story of twelve years when war, plague, famine, and chaos made their mark on a volatile Italy, and when a young, erratic genius, Michelangelo Buonarroti, made his first great statue - the David. It was to become a symbol not only of the independence and defiance of the city of Florence but also of the tortured soul who created it. Anton Gill's Il Gigante is a wonderful history of the artist, his times, and one of his most magnificent works.
- St. Martin's Press
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Despite what others might say, Il Gigante is a dynamic, engaging and well-researched work of history, from a political and artistic point of view. I find the author's technique of bringing the reader into Michelangelo's world both intriguing and effective. He accomplishes in a pithy and precise manner what most bloated critics could not hope to accomplish in 500 years. Michelangelo lived in a beautiful yet complicated and treacherous world. The author demonstrates concretely how Renaissance politics and maneuvering affected Michelangelo on many levels, but circumstances did not stop him from giving the world the very best of himself as an artist and as a human being. Bravo Anton!
The book was okay because it successfully displayed many ideas and numerous facts, but the title is an anomaly. Only 75 of the 300 and something pages are about the David. A better title would be 'The Medici, Florence, and Michelangelo' because the sculpting of the David doesn't seem to be a main part of the book. His syntax is at times unsound and frustrating. Lesson: Always read the reviews given in the book before reading. On the cover of this book it mentions that, 'Gill at last proves and adept storyteller...,' which should have been a clear sign that this author lacks talent.