Contemporaries saw Michelangelo as the greatest artist of all times, recognizing in his creations an inspiration more divine than human. Today our appreciation of Michelangelo's sublime vision, and of his matchless gifts as sculptor, painter, architect and poet, has been strengthened and enriched by the perspective of four centuries. And Michelangelo himself has become the archetype of genius--dedicated, solitary, single-minded, tormented, harassed, unsatisfied and undefeated. In this lucid and authoritative survey, Linda Murray explores the political and religious context of his career, the recurring themes in the work, and the complex symbolism and iconography of his greatest masterpieces. 161 illus., 20 in color.