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ACE2471 Michelangelo Buonarroti: His Life, Art and Time- The Artist's Youth (Central Library Grand Parade Cork)

Started 30 Jan 2024

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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 Practicalities:


Classes will be run on Tuesdays 10.30am-12.30pm for ten weeks from 30th of January to 2nd of April 2024 in the Central Library, Grand Parade Cork.


Closing date for applications: Monday 22nd of January 2024.


Course Content:


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:

Dr Matthew Whyte is an Art Historian specialising in the art and culture of Italy from the late medieval period to the Renaissance. He earned his PhD in History of Art from University College Cork. His current research focuses on questions of religious reform in fifteenth-century Italy, with an emphasis on visual culture and artistic anachronisms. He lectures across the undergraduate degree programme in the Department of History of Art, UCC, and is Coordinator of the Diploma in European Art History with Adult Continuing Education (ACE) at UCC. He frequently leads tours around cultural sites across Italy, and he serves as Historian and Lecturer with Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic.



Entry Requirements:

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

Contact Details for Further Information:

Phone: 021-4904700, Email:

Please note our refund policy as follows:
100% refund  if student cancels before course commencement
100% refund if student's course is cancelled due to insufficient numbers. 
If the student cancels after the first week of the course - full refund minus €50 processing fee 
If the student cancels after the second week of the course - no refund