The Agony and the Ecstasy Author:Irving Stone The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone begins when Michelangelo, against his family's ambitions, became apprenticed at age of thirteen to the painter Ghirlandaio. Shortly after he moved into the fabulous palace of the Medici as Lorenzo's protégé. There, as an intimate of the circle of humanist scholars, and futu... more »re popes, he studied the classics, carved his first sculptures, and fell in love with Lorenzo's frail daughter, Contessina, a love that endured for a lifetime.
However, his greatest passion, overriding his spiritual love for Contessina, his carnal love for the fair-haired Clarissa, or the mature love for Vittoria Colonna, was his lifelong, titanic struggle to release the forms and beauty imprisoned in pure white marble.
He fought with cardinals, princes, and popes for his precious commissions, made lifelong friends and lifelong enemies, and became known for his frightening terribilità. He spent four years lying on his back above the floor of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, painting the ceiling for Pope Julius II to earn the right to carve marble.
No body of work was ever created against a more formidable array of prejudice, jealousy, greed, and blind hostility. But Michelangelo was "God's own child." His personal life story, told here as a novel, constitutes as forceful a tale of conflict and dedication to his staggering creativity: for he was a universal man, robust in his appetites as well as in his humor, achieving the transition from the terror of the dark ages into the glorious modern era of the Golden Renaissance.
At the heart of The Agony and the Ecstasy is the magnificent story of Savonarola and the fiery backgroung of religious wars, as well as the fierce competitions with such contemporaries as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and the architect Bramante. Irving Stone has taken for his canvas all the revolutionary turmoil and pageantry of this turbulent epoch, and it is against the panoramo of giants that Michelangelo's life unfolds in a novel as exciting, dramatic, and unusual as the masterpieces he created.« less