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Monday, September 18, 2006

Michelangelo's Late-Life Accomplishments

I've heard people as young as 50 lament that their productive years are behind them. Perhaps it's the times, our society's idolatry of youth. Surely, the speed of technological change contributes. Perhaps in Michelangelo's day, the wisdom and experience gained over years was valued more than it is today. But to anyone who thinks (s)he's all washed up at 50, I say, "Consider Michelangelo's productivity after age 50 ..."

After 50, he sculpted 15 statues, including the masterful Dawn, Dusk, Night and Day in the Medici Chapel in Florence.

From age 62 to 67 he painted the Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel, and then frescoed The Conversion of St. Paul and the Crucifixion of St. Peter in the Pauline Chapel. He was 76 when he finished them.

He became an architect! He designed and supervised the building of The Laurentian Library in Florence, and in Rome, the 3rd story cornice and courtyard of the Farnese Palace, the Piazza del Campidoglio on the Capitoline Hill, the Porta Pia, St. Peter's Basilica and its amazing dome, and ... at age 88 ... he designed the conversion of a portion of the Baths of Diocletian into the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli!

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