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(B) Michelangelo was a younger contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci and like da Vinci, was a genius. Although his range of talents wasn't as wide as da Vinci's (he focused only on painting and sculpture), the work that he produced was certainly the equal of the older man's. He is probably best known for two works: the fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and his sculpture entitled simply David.
Although Michelangelo was born into a noble family, he spent his early life in a small town where his father owned a marble quarry and a farm. Here he lived with a sculptor and his wife who influenced the young Michelangelo greatly. He later told his biographer that any skill he had as a sculptor came about because he "sucked in chisels and hammers with my mother's milk."
By the time Michelangelo was 15, he had already come to the attention of Lorenzo de Medici, the famous patron of the arts and ruler of the Italian city of Florence. Lorenzo paid Michelangelo to produce sculptures for him and the young man's reputation quickly spread. In 1500, a group in Florence suggested that he might be the man to finish a project started 40 years before by another sculptor. Michelangelo accepted and in 1504 he completed what is probably his most famous piece: David. This statue still stands in Florence.
However, at the same time that Michelangelo was carving David from a block of marble, he was also working for Pope Julius II in Rome. Having commissioned Michelangelo to build his tomb, Pope Julius constantly interrupted this work by asking Michelangelo to sculpt or paint other things for him. One of these side-projects became the second most famous of Michelangelo's works─the incredible frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel─which took four years to complete.
Michelangelo died in 1564, before the Pope's tomb was finished, but not before producing works of such great quality that they inspire awe, even 500 years later.