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ACE2223 Michelangelo Buonarroti: His Life, Art, and Times is a Course

ACE2223 Michelangelo Buonarroti: His Life, Art, and Times

Ended Dec 2, 2021

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Full course description

Course Overview

From his earliest beginnings in Florence, to papal artist and architect in Rome, to draughtsman and writer of beautiful sonnets, Michelangelo remains one of the most dynamic, fascinating, and exciting artists in history. His art has captivated audiences over 500 years, from the specialist to the passer-by. His extraordinarily long career covers a most interesting time in the history of Western culture, from the Renaissance to the Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation. From an artistic point of view, Michelangelo straddles the later years of the Early Renaissance, seeing the transition into the High Renaissance and Mannerism, the latter two of which he largely helped to form. Michelangelo is remembered as mastering the arts of sculpture, painting, and architecture, and his inventions in each medium are still today considered some of the finest examples in existence. Achieving unparalleled fame in his own lifetime, he was the subject of two biographies which provide a fascinating portrait of a troubled genius. This course will examine the major periods of Michelangelo’s life and his most loved works. In doing so, we will study the culture which surrounded him, examining humanism, church reform, political intrigue, philosophical arguments and literature of the 15th and 16th centuries.


Michelangelo is a key personality in the history of Western culture. His long life encompassed an extraordinarily dynamic, tumultuous, and fascinating time for the development of the arts, the Church, philosophy, and politics, the artist himself playing a major role in each aspect of his culture. Not only will we gain a deep understanding of an infinitely interesting individual and his work, but we will also have an opportunity to discuss the cultural and societal events which surrounded Michelangelo’s career.

This course offers a thoroughly interdisciplinary approach to the life of a major artist. By taking Michelangelo as a Case Study, students will have the opportunity to study such issues as cultural exchange, artistic self-fashioning, the inter-relation between art and philosophy, art and poetry, art and politics. Because Michelangelo was such an adaptable individual, this course will appeal to those with an interest in sculpture, painting, and architecture, but also poetry, philosophy, politics, and psychology.

Course Schedule 


Classes will be delivered online on Thursdays 10.30am-12.30pm for ten weeks from 30 September to 2 December.


Week 1: Early years in Florence 1475-1490 

Week 2: The Medici Circle: Learning Sculpture in the Humanist garden of Lorenzo ‘il Magnico’ 1490-2 

Week 3: Turbulent times: From Florence to Bologna and back 1492-1496 

Week 4: The Eternal City: The first Roman excursion 1496-1500 

Week 5: Back to Florence: Civic Identity and the Carving of the David 1500-1504 

Week 6: Papal Artist: At work for Julius II – to Carrara, to Bologna, to Rome 1504-1508 

Week 7: The Sistine Chapel: Art, Oratory, and Papal Propaganda 1508-1512 

Week 8: Michelangelo Architect: Florence and San Lorenzo 1515-1534 

Week 9: Return to Vatican: Rome 1534-49 

Week 10: Final Years: Michelangelo and the Body of Christ: Drawing, Carving, Poetry 

Course Lecturer

Matthew Whyte is a PhD candidate and Graduate Teaching Assistant with the Department of History of Art, specialising in the art and culture of the Italian Renaissance. He holds a Master’s degree in High Renaissance art, with a specialisation in the work of Michelangelo. With History of Art and the Centre for Adult Continuing Education he has delivered courses up to final year undergraduate level, participating in and leading academic field trips to Florence and Rome. He is also Coordinator of the Diploma in European Art History with CACE, and Art Historian/Lecturer for Zegrahm Expeditions.

Entry Requirements

Applicants must be at least 18 years old at course commencement.


Short courses are not assessed. Students will receive a UCC Certificate of Attendance upon completion.

Closing Date for Application

Friday 17 September

Contact Details for Further Information

Regina Sexton, Phone: 021-4904700, Email: