Michelangelo_-_Creation_of_Adam_(cropped) (1).jpg

Online Course

Deepen your knowledge and expand your horizons by registering for an online, interactive art history course taught by Elaine Ruffolo.

Upcoming 7-week course begins on Wednesday, November 9th:

The Genius Michelangelo



Please register with an email address you can check.

You will receive an informational email from admin@elaineruffolo.com closer to the first class. If you have not received an email by November 1st, please let us know.

Registered students can access supplemental class information and recordings here:

Michelangelo_-_Creation_of_Adam_(cropped) (1).jpg
image - 2022-03-05T142613.440.png

Course description:
Living nearly 89 years, Michelangelo Buonarroti's career spanned the glories of Renaissance Florence, the discovery of the New World, the Reformation and the stirrings of the Counter-Reformation, and the pontificates of 13 popes—9 of whom employed him at some point. The Sistine Chapel ceiling, the Pietà, the David, the Last Judgment, the Moses, the Dome of St. Peter's Basilica; Michelangelo's artistic achievements, in their scope and execution, seem unimaginable. His brilliance is apparent in every medium he worked in and with every tool he used. Today, more than 500 years after his unique artistry burst forth on the Renaissance world, the breadth and depth of his accomplishments still confound our attempts to grasp their full importance.
How much do we really know about Michelangelo? Conflicting viewpoints and much confusion surround many aspects of the Renaissance artist's life and art; myth and legend so envelop him that he sometimes seems more like a caricature than a complete human being. Despite a familiarity with some of his works, aspects of Michelangelo's art and life remain open to interpretation. 
This course is arranged as a chronological survey of the artist's life, The Genius of Michelangelo presents a thorough understanding of Michelangelo's life and work, informed by a broad consideration of the artist and his times, as well as the specific circumstances and contexts in which he crafted his art.   You will  gain a  comprehensive perspective on one of history's greatest artists and explore the relationship between truth and legend to reveal a groundbreaking new picture of Michelangelo as an artist, a businessman, and genius.

Texts for the class 
William E. Wallace, Michelangelo: The Artist, the Man and His Times. Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists, any translation of 1568 edition (with important chapter on
Michelangelo). Many free versions are available online: https://britishinstitutehoa.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/vasari-the-life-of-michelangelo.pdf

Supplemental Reading 
John Paoletti and Gary Radke, Art in Renaissance Italy, London: Laurence King, (any edition). 
Howard Hibbard, Michelangelo. Penguin Books, 2nd edition, 1985 (any edition).
Ross King, Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling. Walker and Co., 2006.
Victor Coonin, From Marble to Flesh: The Biography of Michelangelo’s David, Florence, The Florentine Press, 2014.

Week One: November 9
The Prodigy

Topics to be discussed: Florence and the Arts in 1475, Michelangelo’s early years in Florence and Bologna, Lorenzo the Magnificent, Michelangelo’s first Roman sojourn.

Works to be considered: 
Head of a Faun, Lost
Battle of the Centaurs (ca.1489-92), Casa Buonarroti, Florence
Madonna of the Stairs (ca.1489-92), Casa Buonarroti, Florence
Crucifix for Santo Spirito (ca.1492), Casa Buonarroti, Florence
Angel, St Petronius, and St Proclus (ca.1495), San Domenico, Bologna
Bacchus (1496-98), Bargello Museum, Florence
New York Cupid, French Consulate/MET, New York
Vatican (Rome) Pietà (1498-1500), St. Peter‘s, Rome
Piccolomini Altar (1501-04), Siena Cathedral
Bruges Madonna (1501-04), Notre-Dame, Bruges

Reading assignment:
Wallace, Chapters 1 and 2 
Begin Vasari’s chapter on Michelangelo in the Lives of the Artists
Yes, It’s Beautiful, but is it Michelangelo? Michelangelo Crucifix


Week Two: November 16
Rivalry and Republican Florence 


Topics to be discussed: the expulsion of the Medici, Savonarola, Michelangelo vs Leonardo, the project for il Gigante and three tondos.

Works to be considered:  
David (1501-4), Accademia Museum, Florence
Taddei Tondo (ca.1504), Royal Academy, London
Pitti Tondo (ca.1504), Bargello Museum, Florence
Doni Tondo (ca.1504), Uffizi Gallery, Florence
Battle of Cascina (1504), Originally for Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
St. Matthew (ca.1504-8), Accademia Museum, Florence


Reading assignment
Wallace, chapter 3 
Michelangelo and Leonardo Johannes Wild, The Burlington Magazine (PDF)


Week Three: November 23
Michelangelo and Pope Julius II 

Topics to be covered: Julius II patronage, revival of Rome, the papal tomb project, the Sistine Chapel: style and interpretation.

Works to be considered: 
Sistine Chapel Ceiling (1508-12), Vatican
Tomb Projects of Julius II (1505-1545), Unfinished
Moses (1513-1515), San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome
Bound Slave and Dying Slave (ca. 1510-16), Louvre, Paris
Florence Slaves (ca.1520-30), Accademia Museum, Florence
Rachel and Leah (1542-55), San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome

Reading assignment
Wallace, chapter 4 and 5

Week Four November 30

Week Four: November 30

Michelangelo and the Medici Popes

Topics to be covered: Leo X, Protestant Reformation, Clement VII, Sack of Rome, Florence under the Medici.

Works to be considered:
Model for San Lorenzo Façade (ca.1517), Casa Buonarroti, Florence
Risen Christ (1519-20), Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Rome
Victory (ca.1527-30), Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
Medici Chapel Architecture (1519-34), San Lorenzo, Florence
Medici Chapel Tomb Statues (1520-34), San Lorenzo, Florence
Medici Chapel Madonna and Saints (1524-34) San Lorenzo, Florence

Reading assignment
Wallace, Chapter 6, 7 and 8

Week Five: December 6 *This is a Tuesday*
Michelangelo and Counter Reformation Rome

Topics to be considered: Michelangelo’s personal life, Paul III, Vittoria Colonna, Mannerism, architecture in Rome.
Works to be considered:
Last Judgment (1534-41), Sistine Chapel, Vatican
Capitoline Hill (ca.1538), Rome
Porta Pia, Rome (ca.1561), Rome
Palazzo Farnese,  1546, Rome
Rondanini Pietà (1555-1564), Castello Sforzesco, Milan
Late Crucifixion Drawings (ca.1540-1560)
Palestrina Pietà

Reading assignment
Wallace, Chapter 9, 10, 11, 13 and 14

Week Six: December 14
Final Years

Guest lecturer TBA

Week Seven: December 21
Review and final exam (self-graded)

The Genius Michelangelo


COST: $395 or €325 per person 

($180 discounted fee to additional household members)

WHEN: Seven week course on Wednesdays starting on November 9th at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm in Florence (1:00 to 2:30 pm in New York, 12:00 to 1:30 pm in Chicago, 11:00 am to 12:30 pm in Denver and 10:00 to 11:30 am in Los Angeles).


If you miss a class, it will be recorded and available for viewing at your convenience.

Should you wish to pay with Zelle, please click the button below and enter the $395 registration fee, using my email elaine.ruffolo@gmail.com